Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Rule Unfairly Targets Disadvantaged Students<p> Back to school season isn&#39;t just for elementary schoolers or 18-year-olds excitedly heading off for college life. Millions of adults will also enroll in school this fall to continue their education. While their precise reasons for pursuing higher education are as unique as their DNA, a common hope underlies the vast majority&#39;s intentions &ndash; acquiring knowledge and skills that will open up future opportunities in life and the workforce.</p> <p> Unfortunately, if the Obama administration has its way, non-traditional students will have fewer options for continuing their education moving forward. The administration has proposed a &quot;<a href="" title="Link:">gainful employment rule</a>&quot; that threatens to render students in many for-profit colleges ineligible to access student loans. Analysts estimate that this rule could impact nearly 3.4 million students, more than half of which come from low-income households and are the least likely to find suitable opportunities at traditional colleges and universities.</p> <p> The administration justifies these new rules as necessary to discourage student loan default and prevent students from racking up unpayable debts while pursuing degrees that won&#39;t immediately lead to higher earnings. Certainly, there is reason for concern that many students overpay for higher education programs that provide scant value. The U.S. should have a robust debate about how to reform higher education policies and infrastructure to encourage greater efficiency.</p> <p> Yet that&#39;s not what the administration has done by advancing this gainful employment rule. Rather, it singles out for-profit higher education programs geared to non-traditional students and adult learners for assessment under arbitrary standards that don&#39;t necessarily reflect the schools&#39; value. The gainful employment rule zeroes in on the percentage of graduates who default on student loans and graduates&#39; loan-debt-to-earnings ratio when making determinations on which programs deserve support. So if graduates aren&#39;t earning enough in the years immediately following completion of their degrees then that program is cut off from federal student loans.</p> <p> These metrics leave out much important information that should go into a fair assessment of the value provided by a school, including the type of students that are being served. Private sector, higher education institutions disproportionately serve the at-risk student population &ndash; students who are more likely to be older, members of minority groups and from lower-income backgrounds than their peers at public and nonprofit, private colleges. It&#39;s not surprising that such students also tend to borrow more money and earn less immediately after obtaining their degrees. Yet that shouldn&#39;t be an excuse to cut off access to educational opportunities for these students.</p> <p> And for-profit colleges fill important educational gaps by providing career-oriented training programs in disciplines such as automotive repair, electrical and aeronautical engineering, computer networking and graphics, web and software design, accounting and a vast area of health care professions such as anesthesiology, veterinary medicine and nursing. While high pay may not come immediately, many of these fields are growing employment areas with the potential for lasting, solid earnings.</p> <p> Parents paying $30,000-a-year tuition for their offspring to pursue dance and art history degrees at elite liberal arts colleges may envy those who have something more solid to show for their years in school. And indeed, a certain snobbishness seems to underlie the administration&#39;s instinct to crack down on for-profit colleges that provide more technical and job-oriented training, while ignoring jaw-dropping examples of waste at traditional nonprofit colleges. Who is to say that there is more value in a degree in anthropology or women&#39;s studies obtained from a taxpayer-supported college or university than a medical technician certification from an associate program at a for-profit school?</p> <p> And in fact, as the&nbsp;<a href="" title="Link:">Washington Post</a>&nbsp;noted in an editorial, many supposedly prestigious programs from traditional, elite nonprofit institutions, such as Northwestern University&#39;s journalism program and George Washington University&#39;s law program, would fail the gainful rule test if it were imposed on them. Indeed, the Washington Post concluded, &quot;The likeliest effect of the rule would be to make it more difficult for poor Americans to earn a secondary degree.&quot;</p> <p> All students should look closely at the results produced by higher education institutions before they begin borrowing money and paying tuition. The administration also ought to consider reforming the student loan program to make sure all students, regardless of the type of school they enroll in, take on only reasonable debts in order to discourage default. Indeed policymakers at all levels of government should try to make higher education more efficient, so taxpayers aren&#39;t supporting bloated campus administrations and ever-higher tuition. All universities should transparently report the true costs of obtaining degrees and recent graduates&#39; results so that students can make informed decisions about education.</p> <p> Yet the Department of Education shouldn&#39;t create one set of rules for one kind of school and rob the at-risk students they serve from educational opportunities they sorely need.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum and editor of &quot;Lean Together.&quot;</em></p> L. LukasTue, 9 Sep 2014 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHow To Slow The Pace Of Medial Progress<p> The Americans infected with the&nbsp;<a href="">Ebola</a>&nbsp;virus appear to be improving &mdash; very welcome news, especially given the virus&rsquo;s death rate, which is estimated to be as high 90 percent.</p> <p> Currently, no cure exists for&nbsp;<a href="">Ebola</a>, though one company has developed a vaccine that is being prepared for human testing. All the world prays that its efforts will prove successful, a treatment for the infected will emerge, and this threat will be eliminated permanently.</p> <p> What can our national leaders do to ensure that we are better prepared for the next deadly threat that&rsquo;s sure to emerge? Here&rsquo;s an idea: How about a special, dedicated tax on the companies researching and developing treatments and cures for infectious diseases such as&nbsp;<a href="">Ebola</a>&nbsp;to drain billions of dollars from their vital work and further bloat the federal Treasury?</p> <p> Sounds crazy, right? No one would ever propose such an obviously counterproductive policy that would impede urgently needed research. No one would seek to punish efforts to develop lifesaving treatments, alleviate suffering and use the critical nature of such work as a government revenue-raiser.</p> <p> Yet, this is pretty much our current tax law. Drugmakers are currently spared, but under Obamacare, medical-device manufacturers must pay a special 2.3 percent tax on the sale of medical devices, which is draining billions from the industry. Typically, such sales taxes are reserved for items such as cigarettes and alcohol, with the explicit purpose of discouraging these products&rsquo; use and distribution. Why are medical devices being treated this way? After all, while the companies affected by this tax aren&rsquo;t researching cures for infectious diseases like&nbsp;<a href="">Ebola</a>, medical-device manufacturers are responsible for developing life-enhancing technologies that help alleviate the effects of heart disease and paralysis, to help those in need of artificial limbs and hip replacements, and to make all manner of surgeries less invasive.</p> <p> Obamacare proponents had suggested that this tax would be harmless and the increased costs would be passed easily from manufacturers to patients to insurance companies, who would be flush with cash from higher enrollment owing to Obamacare. It hasn&rsquo;t worked out that way, though. Numerous medical-device manufacturers have been slashing U.S. jobs in part as a result of the increased costs associated with this tax: In June, Arrow International, which specializes in producing disposable catheters, announced it would close its plant in Charlotte, N.C., and move operations to Mexico. DePuy Synthes, a medical-device arm of Johnson &amp; Johnson, reported it would eliminate about 2 percent of its jobs, which means layoffs for about 400. Medtronic, Boston Scientific and Abbott Laboratories have also all slashed jobs since this new tax took effect.</p> <p> Those of us whose chief concern is that innovation continues can be thankful that rather than just contracting operations, some of these companies are shifting activities to lower-tax countries so they can continue their work. Yet it&rsquo;s a sad situation for America: Our country has become so inhospitable to innovators that we are chasing away these businesses and the good-paying jobs they provide.</p> <p> There is an old policy adage that if you want less of something, you should tax it. Why, then, are we singling out companies that are delivering hope, greater health and a higher quality of life for the rest of us with this special tax? Do we want less of these things? Of course not. That&rsquo;s why policymakers should eliminate such punitive taxes, and instead focus on making it easier for such innovators to operate, by lowering corporate taxes across the board, simplifying tax laws, and reducing onerous regulations that drain away resources. Better yet, policymakers should start anew on health care reform to prevent government from being a roadblock to progress. Rather than Obamacare&rsquo;s top-down, government-centered approach, Congress should focus on returning resources and giving more control and flexibility to patients and doctors, in order to create a highly competitive, dynamic health marketplace that</p> <p> Fortunately, a major&nbsp;<a href="">Ebola</a>&nbsp;outbreak is unlikely to occur, particularly in the United States, given that transmitting the disease requires significant contact. Proper precautions can limit the virus&rsquo;s reach. What about the next disease that may emerge, though?</p> <p> Once an outbreak occurs, politicians can be counted on to make speeches about the vital cause of medical research. Yet rather than waiting for a crisis, Americans should be urging action now to rescind counterproductive policies, and instead create a health care system conducive to continued medical progress.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> L. LukasThu, 21 Aug 2014 07:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBringing Access to Technology to People Who Need It<p> IWF has written before about how <a href="">technology</a> has opened up a world of possibilities, particularly for women, by creating new paradigms for communication, working from home and educating oneself and one&rsquo;s children.&nbsp;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s why I was happy to see <a href=",2817,2461995,00.asp">this announcement</a> about how Comcast is facilitating access to internet services for low-income families.&nbsp; In addition to offering free access to qualifying families, they are also forgiving the debts of other low income family of limited means.</p> <p> So often, when we think of how to solve problems in society we think first about government&mdash;what new government program can provide aid to those in need so that the rest of us don&rsquo;t have to think about it? But really, solving society&rsquo;s problems is a job for all of us as free individuals, whether we are organized as corporations, community groups, or just neighbors and families.&nbsp; Encouraging a healthier and more active civil society is a theme of IWF&#39;s new book, <a href=",-Stronger-Communities,-And-More-Opportunity-for-Women">Lean Together</a>, and it&rsquo;s nice to see an example of a company stepping up to that challenge.</p> L. LukasTue, 19 Aug 2014 02:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBringing Technology to People Who Need Access<p> IWF has written before about how <a href="">technology</a> has opened up a world of possibilities, particularly for women, by creating new paradigms for communication, working from home and educating oneself and one&rsquo;s children.&nbsp;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s why I was happy to see <a href=",2817,2461995,00.asp">this announcement</a> about how Comcast is facilitating access to internet services for low-income families.&nbsp; In addition to offering free access to qualifying families, they are also forgiving the debts of other low income family of limited means.</p> <p> So often, when we think of how to solve problems in society we think first about government&mdash;what new government program can provide aid to those in need so that the rest of us don&rsquo;t have to think about it? But really, solving society&rsquo;s problems is a job for all of us as free individuals, whether we are organized as corporations, community groups, or just neighbors and families.&nbsp; Encouraging a healthier and more active civil society is a theme of IWF&#39;s new book, <a href=",-Stronger-Communities,-And-More-Opportunity-for-Women">Lean Together</a>, and it&rsquo;s nice to see an example of a company stepping up to that challenge.</p> L. LukasTue, 19 Aug 2014 01:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHow Paid-Leave Law Threatens Women<p> There&rsquo;s a new fairy-tale front in the &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo;: a paid family- and medical-leave entitlement.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s supposed to be the magic cure-all for expectant mothers and workers with sick loved ones suffering in evil corporate America.</p> <p> In fact, it&rsquo;s another &ldquo;one size fits all&rdquo; mandate that would hurt more folks than it helps &mdash; and means particular trouble for women in the workforce.</p> <p> In the wake of ObamaCare&rsquo;s graveyard of broken promises &mdash; from the &ldquo;if you like your plan, you can keep it&rdquo; whopper to the way the laughably named &ldquo;Affordable Care Act&rdquo; hiked most Americans&rsquo; insurance costs &mdash; people may be more skeptical about the Democrats&rsquo; latest plan.</p> <p> The leading paid-leave proposal comes from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Her Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act would upend the current compensation packages of 146 million American workers to create a massive, new, federal paid-leave entitlement.</p> <p> It hits all workers with a new payroll tax so they can be eligible for paid time off at a set percentage of normal salary.</p> <p> A guaranteed benefit sounds nice, but many will find they are worse off than before, with less take-home pay and less generous overall leave time.</p> <p> Mandating a single system will also discourage companies from considering work-from-home and part-time arrangements, which are often the best solution for both worker and employer when people need leave.</p> <p> Women should especially be warned: Proposals like the Family Act create the expectation that women will disappear for three months at a time, making them seem less suitable for leadership positions.</p> <p> Liberal champions of generous leave programs ignore it, but that&rsquo;s exactly what&rsquo;s happened in Europe, where paid-leave mandates have left women much less likely than Americans to be managers and private-sector executives.</p> <p> Gillibrand&rsquo;s bill is the opposite of helping women &ldquo;lean in.&rdquo;</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s also consider the facts now about the state of leave benefits in US workplaces. Liberals paint a bleak picture of a hypersexist &ldquo;Mad Men&rdquo; world, but that simply isn&rsquo;t reality: Most companies already recognize that commonsense leave policies are important for holding on to valued employees.</p> <p> For example, the&nbsp;<a href="">Census Bureau has studied what actually happens</a>&nbsp;to working women after the birth of a child: 56 percent of full-time working women used paid leave, 42 percent used unpaid leave, 10 percent used disability leave, 19 percent quit their job and nearly 5 percent reported being let go.</p> <p> (The percentages add up to more than 100 because many women used more than one category of leave.)</p> <p> The Census data don&rsquo;t suggest that all Americans have adequate benefits &mdash; for example, part-time workers were more likely to quit and had fewer leave options.</p> <p> But these facts should caution against a one-size-fits-all government leave program that would disrupt all existing arrangements.</p> <p> And if we decide the government should do something, far better it offer direct relief targetted at the biggest hardships created by a lack of paid leave.</p> <p> A program modeled on the Earned Income Tax Credit, for example, could provide financial help for low-income workers following the birth of a child or who face significant illnesses that require extended leave time.</p> <p> This could help people facing tough times without changing economic incentives for hiring them and without discouraging a flexible, dynamic work world.</p> <p> Of course, the best way to ensure people have the compensation packages they need is a growing economy with plentiful jobs, so that employers have to compete for workers.</p> <p> Sadly, that seems a distant dream today. But we&rsquo;d only make it even more distant if we fall for the fantasy that Washington can sweep in and shower workers with generous benefits without real costs for workers.</p> <p> We&rsquo;ve heard that story before; it doesn&rsquo;t have a happy ending.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas, the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, is expecting her fifth child in nine years this fall. During this time, she has worked continuously for IWF using flexible, at-home arrangements.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 15 Aug 2014 06:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSeattle's Minimum-Wage Hike Is Sure to End in Disaster<p> August 8, 2014&nbsp;The announcement sounded like the premise of a feel-good summer movie. High schoolers in Seattle set to start working in ice cream shops and summer camps are given a raise by their City Council. Employees and employers alike will enjoy the summer of their lives, since all those youngsters will have more money in their pockets to spend at local businesses, as well as make memories on warm, starry nights.</p> <p> That may be a good trailer, but it hardly captures the reality of how Seattle&#39;s new minimum-wage law will play out for real-life teens and the others seeking work in that city&#39;s lower-paying industries.</p> <p> Reality check No. 1 is that there are already far too few minimum-wage jobs for high schoolers and those with few skills or limited education. As the&nbsp;<a href="">Employment Policy Institute</a>&nbsp;recently reported, in the Seattle area the unemployment rate for 16- 19-year-olds with less than a high school diploma sits at a shocking 31.4 percent. That means that almost one in three teens looking for work&mdash;note that they are seeking positions that pay the current minimum wage, not $15 an hour&mdash;can&#39;t find an opening. Their inability to find a job today doesn&#39;t just mean less money for movies and going to the beach this summer. It means they won&#39;t start a work history and gain the valuable skills and experience that are necessary for future jobs, ones that pay more and start them toward long-term careers.</p> <p> Seattle is far from the worst job market for youth in the country:&nbsp;<a href="">Riverside, Calif., and Portland, Ore.,</a>&nbsp;have youth unemployment rates in excess of<em>&nbsp;50 percent</em>. That means that for every high schooler lucky enough to have a job, there&#39;s another scouring want ads.</p> <p> At least, Seattle isn&#39;t the worst youth job market yet. The city could earn that dubious distinction once the minimum-wage hike begins to kick in. Certainly some current workers will be better off under the new law and will enjoy a boost in take-home pay. Yet others will find themselves joining the ranks of the unemployed as business owners try to make due with fewer workers because they can&#39;t afford higher employment costs.</p> <p> Supporters of the minimum-wage increase may sincerely hope that this policy will stimulate the economy or at least&nbsp;<a href="">do no harm</a>&nbsp;in terms of job creation. Yet&nbsp;<a href="">common sense</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="">sound economic analysis</a>&nbsp;warn otherwise. The&nbsp;<u><a href="">Congressional Budget Office</a></u>&mdash;a nonpartisan research entity&mdash;estimated that the Democrats&#39; proposed federal rate hike to $10.10 per hour would result in 500,000 fewer jobs nationwide.&nbsp;Seattle youth be warned: The city&#39;s minimum-wage hike will inevitably push employment in the same direction, leaving fewer job opportunities for those starting out.</p> <p> Nearly half of those working minimum wage are 24 or younger, according to&nbsp;<a href="">federal data</a>. These young workers typically are not the only breadwinners in their households, and the vast majority live in homes with an annual income of $42,000 or more, according to a&nbsp;<a href="">2013 report by the Heritage Foundation</a>.</p> <p> But, this law will also shape the lives of many adults who are responsible for families. Proponents of the higher minimum wage have argued that the new mandate will particularly help women, who account for&nbsp;<a href="">two-thirds</a>&nbsp;of minimum-wage workers.&nbsp;This statistic also suggests that women will also be far more vulnerable to the potential job losses created by the new minimum wage. Nationally, women also account for nearly&nbsp;<a href="">two-thirds</a>&nbsp;of part-time workers, positions that are also are more likely to pay the legal minimum. As employment costs rise, businesses will be tempted to cut and consolidate part-time positions in favor of fewer, more highly skilled workers. That&#39;s bad news for those who need or prefer part-time schedules to balance their work and family responsibilities.</p> <p> It&#39;s also bad news for minority youth, who tend to have fewer education and fewer job opportunities. A higher minimum wage makes it less likely a business owner will take a chance on them. The&nbsp;<a href="">national unemployment rate in March 2014 for African-American teenagers&nbsp;</a>was almost double the rate for whites, a jaw-dropping 38 percent. That&#39;s unlikely to reverse if the country follows Seattle&#39;s lead and makes hiring young workers more and more expensive.</p> <p> Proponents of minimum-wage hikes want to cast themselves as champions of the rights of the little guy, people and organizations fighting against greedy corporate America. Yet it&#39;s important to keep in mind what minimum-wage regulations are at their core: laws that prevent free people from entering into contracts to trade work for wages below what government says is best. Making it illegal for people to find work and experience hardly seems compassionate. Many families recognize that skill-building positions are often worth more than what they pay, which is why unpaid internships remain a staple for middle-class youth&mdash;including, quite likely, the children of Seattle City Council members. Don&#39;t younger Americans from less fortunate circumstance also deserve skill-building opportunities? Boosting the minimum wage will only further restrict it.</p> <p> Lack of employment, not low wages, is the biggest factor creating poverty today. In 2012, just under one in 10 working-age adults living in poverty had full-time, year-round work, while two-thirds had no work at all, according to the most recent census data available (<a href="">see Table 18</a>). Raising the minimum wage will do nothing to help those who lack employment and can make their problems worse.</p> <p> If Seattle&#39;s City Council wants to help people in need, then this new minimum-wage law should end up on the cutting-room floor instead of part of the city&#39;s story. It should be repealed immediately.</p> <div> <p align="center"> &nbsp;</p> </div> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 8 Aug 2014 11:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAdministration Pushes for a Less Flexible Work Environment<p> It&#39;s a small, but important step toward a less flexible work environment.</p> <p> As&nbsp;<a href=""><em>TheHill</em></a>&nbsp;reported yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is promulgating <a href="">regulations</a> to require federal contractors to provide data on employee compensation broken down by sex, race, job categories, and other categories. The purported purpose is to encourage transparency and root out wage discrimination, but its effect will be to make all companies more conscious of how their compensation data &mdash; even if entirely legal and justified based on employees&rsquo; merits and duties &mdash; will be viewed through a politically correct lens, and one with the power of the state behind it.</p> <p> One would think after reports of the yawning wage gap at the&nbsp;<a href="">White House</a>&nbsp;and in prominent&nbsp;<a href="">Democratic congressional offices</a>, the Left would be aware that statistical wage gaps aren&rsquo;t necessarily evidence of discrimination. The EEOC does ask companies to provide the number of hours worked and other relevant factors in addition to demographic data, which can be useful in explaining wage differences (for example, even women considered full-time workers spend less time each day in the office than full-time men, which contributes to differences in pay). But many of these factors that impact pay are hard to capture for a government report: differences in educational backgrounds and areas of expertise, specific job responsibilities, including the level of travel, willingness to engage in overtime work, to name but a few (see more about the main causes of the wage gap&nbsp;<a href="">here</a>).</p> <p> Under these new rules, companies that have business with the federal government (or hope to) will have reason to make their compensation practices more standardized. Yes, this may mean that they try to boost women&rsquo;s and other protected groups&rsquo; wages to try to reduce statistical gaps that might give bureaucrats an opening for investigation. But it also encourages companies to move toward more rigid pay structures which provide less flexibility for workers and managers.&nbsp; Why offer a valued female employee a reduced work-schedule or less rigorous job duties (such as less travel or flexible hours) in return for lower take-home pay, even if that&rsquo;s what she prefers, if that opens the company to accusations of discriminating against women? After all, such a tradeoff is tough to explain in a report for the Department of Labor, so better to require all workers to work the same hours for the same pay.</p> <p> Less flexibility and more red tape for American employers &mdash; which will be the outcome of these new rules &mdash; aren&rsquo;t good news for employees, regardless of one&rsquo;s gender or other demographic characteristics. &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum and editor and contributor of &quot;Lean Together.&quot;&nbsp;</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasThu, 7 Aug 2014 11:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSan Francisco Wants to Drive Youth Unemployment Higher<p> Summer jobs do more than provide teens pocket-money.&nbsp; They are supposed to be an important skill-building opportunity.&nbsp; Teens learn the basics about customer service, good manners, a professional demeanor, following a work schedule, and how to manage a relationship with a boss.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s also an important line on the resume, allowing teens to demonstrate a work history which can be an important foundation when applying for other future (better paying) jobs.</p> <p> Yet sadly for too many teens today, such opportunities are hard to come by. &nbsp;<a href="">The Employment Policy Institute released a study</a> in June that analyzed Census Bureau data. &nbsp;They noted that the national unemployment rate for those 16-19 without a high school diploma was 21 percent, but in some metropolitan areas, youth unemployment rates were much worse.&nbsp; In fact, EPI reported that &ldquo;four of the top five worst metro areas for youth unemployment are in California.&rdquo;</p> <p> For example, San Francisco&rsquo;s teen unemployment rate was above 35%. &nbsp;That means more than one out of every three high schoolers who is looking for work can&rsquo;t find a job.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s a big, irreplaceable, lost opportunity for these youngsters.&nbsp; Not only are they missing this skill-building opportunity, they are also likely getting demoralized about the economy, which could discourage them from looking for work in the future.</p> <p> So what are city officials doing about this serious problem?</p> <p> Naturally, in San Francisco, they are plotting ways to make it far worse by discouraging the creation of jobs for this demographic. &nbsp;San Francisco&#39;s mayor has proposed hiking the minimum wage above $15, and the city&rsquo;s controller is warning that this will result in thousands of fewer jobs, particularly for those with few skills.&nbsp; <a href="">As Bloomberg Business Week</a> reports:</p> <blockquote> <p> A proposal to raise San Francisco&rsquo;s minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost about 15,270 jobs concentrated in the low-wage restaurant and food-service industries by 2019, according to the city&rsquo;s controller.</p> <p> While the plan to raise the wage in California&rsquo;s fourth-largest city from $10.74 to $15 by 2018 would boost employee earnings and consumer spending, the additional expenses would discourage job creation, according to a report today by the Controller&rsquo;s Office of Economic Analysis.</p> <p> &ldquo;To the extent that higher minimum wage raises labor costs, it will create a disincentive to hire employees and would lead to reduced employment,&rdquo; the report said.</p> </blockquote> <p> Mayor Ed Lee, champion of the proposed minimum wage hike, explained: &ldquo;San Francisco is the most progressive city in America when it comes to addressing income inequality&hellip;We are going to help our lowest-paid workers.&rdquo;</p> <p> Lee didn&rsquo;t explain, apparently, how robbing those with the fewest skills of desperately needed job opportunities helps them.&nbsp;</p> <p> Raising the minimum wage sounds compassionate only if one ignores how this policy actually works in practice to prevent people from beginning their climb up the economic ladder.&nbsp; And there&rsquo;s simply <em>nothing</em> compassionate about that.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasThu, 17 Jul 2014 22:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWomen-Owned Businesses Hit Hard By ObamaCare Tax<p class="p1"> <span class="s1"><em>photo credit: Getty Images</em></span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">What&rsquo;s the harm in hitting businesses with another tax and regulation?&nbsp; Conservative economists lecture about costs rippling through, hitting consumers and employees as well as business&rsquo;s bottom-lines.&nbsp; But their estimates are just numbers on a screen, and the tax and regulations are always sold as advancing a noble cause and helping real people.&nbsp; And who is going to bother to see if those costs ever actually materialized anyway?</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">This was the prevailing view with ObamaCare&rsquo;s many taxes, which were neatly tucked into the enormous two-thousand page legislation, unread by all but the most diligent of staff aids.&nbsp; Taxes on medical device manufacturers and tanning salons, like the increase Medicare payroll tax on those earning more than $200,000, were waved away as affecting the unsympathetic one-percent.&nbsp; They certainly weren&rsquo;t supposed to impact ordinary Americans.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Yet now that ObamaCare is in force, we&rsquo;ve seen the impact of the law&rsquo;s many provisions in practice.&nbsp; Economists warnings that the employer mandate would encourage some businesses to shift employees to part-time status came true. So did their warnings that government mandates that insurance provide first-dollar coverage for more benefits would raise insurance premiums.&nbsp; Consumers saw that rather than the President&rsquo;s promised thousand dollars of savings in health care costs, most middleclass Americans are paying more, and often much more.&nbsp; And the impact of those targeted ObamaCare taxes on companies and industries&mdash;surprise, surprise&mdash;aren&rsquo;t just hitting those evil one-percenters.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s middle-class America who is bearing the costs.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">ObamaCare&rsquo;s tax on tanning salons deserves particular scrutiny, given all the Left&rsquo;s hand-wringing about an alleged &ldquo;war on women.&rdquo;&nbsp; Initially, Democrats writing the ObamaCare legislation planned to target another politically-incorrect service&mdash;elective cosmetic surgery&mdash;for a special, dedicated tax to help raise revenue to pay for all of ObamaCare&rsquo;s new costs.&nbsp; But, as the Wall Street Journal reported, the influential (and deep-pocketed) American Medical Association objected, so Democrats re-aimed at the indoor tanning industry, singling it out for a 10 percent tax on all UV tanning services sold.</span></p> <p class="p1"> Women own most tanning salons, make up nine out of ten salon employees, and also account for the majority of their customers.&nbsp; Defenders of the tax argued that the tax would be costlessly absorbed by profitable salons, or passed on to the costumers who had the disposable income to pay a little extra.&nbsp; Yet that&rsquo;s not how it&rsquo;s worked in the real world.&nbsp; The industry reports that the number of tanning salons has fallen from 18,000 in 2009 to 10,000 today, and 64,000 jobs have been eliminated in the process.</p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">One can debate on whether tanning services deserve to be singled out for a &ldquo;sin tax&rdquo; like cigarettes, but you can&rsquo;t ignore that there is a real price being paid for these taxes, which come in the form of fewer jobs and fewer women-owned businesses. &nbsp;Washington pols should also take note that the tanning tax has produced just one-third of the revenue for the government than policymakers had estimated it would when they drafting the law.&nbsp; Less tax revenue is another consequence of squeezing businesses out of existence.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Medical device manufacturers have also reported reducing hiring and laying off workers, to the tune of thousands of lost jobs and thousands more to come, because of the new taxes levied under ObamaCare.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">The American people should take note of what&rsquo;s happening in these industries and keep it in mind as Washington presents its next round of revenue raisers and regulations which they say will be harmless while helping funded needed programs and advancing key causes.&nbsp; There may be real beneficiaries to such government intervention, but there are real costs to, which are just as real and ought to be acknowledged&mdash;rather than brushed away.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1"><i>Carrie Lukas is managing director at the </i><a href=""><span class="s2"><i>Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</i></span></a><i>.</i></span></p> L. LukasMon, 14 Jul 2014 07:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIt’s Okay To Tell Your Daughter She’s Pretty<p class="p1"> <span class="s1"><a href="">This advertisement</a></span><span class="s2">, a recent social media hit, implies that the reason women account for a relatively small share of science and engineer majors is societal messages, such as those that tell girls their looks are more important than their brains. It shows a young girl growing from toddler to teenager while the viewer hears her parents calling her &ldquo;pretty girl,&rdquo; telling her not to mess up her dress, and to hand the power tools over to her brother.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">In a way, it&rsquo;s a harmless ad, reminding parents that the messages they send their daughters about what makes her valuable impacts girls&rsquo; self-esteem and how they will focus their energies. But it is also terribly misleading, both in where the most damaging messages come from and the reasons why women are less likely than men to pursue engineering and science in college and as a career.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">First, parents occasionally calling their daughter &ldquo;pretty&rdquo; hardly drives girls to worry about their looks. In fact, it seems perfectly appropriate&mdash;necessary, even&mdash;for parents to tell their child they thinks she is beautiful. Of course, these cannot be the only complements a little girl hears. Parents need to praise her kindness, work ethic, imagination, and sense of humor. This is pretty obvious stuff.</span></p> <p class="p2"> <span style="color:#ff0000;"><strong><span class="s2">Statistics like this tell us absolutely nothing about why men and women end up choosing the majors and careers that they do.</span></strong></span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">The looks obsession isn&rsquo;t driven by parents lovingly referring to a daughter as &ldquo;my pretty girl,&rdquo; but the bombardment of messages from society&mdash;from Hollywood, fashion designers, and celebrity culture&mdash;that make looks seem all-important, and, even worse, make sex appeal paramount. Given that cultural obsession, you can guarantee girls will wonder and worry if they are pretty enough. This makes it important that a parent provides some basic reassurance in this area, and, in the process, parents can emphasize that their daughter looks nice in her jeans and sweater, rather than in a mid-drift.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">Looks are only part of the message in this ad, the other being that we need to allow our daughter the time to explore, get messy, and take some risks, just like we expect from our sons. That&rsquo;s true, of course, though it is hard to imagine that such a blindingly obvious fact requires a schmaltzy commercial in this age of equality and grrrrrl power.</span></p> <p class="p4"> <span style="color:#696969;"><strong><span class="s2">Academic Intervention: Necessary?</span></strong></span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">More troubling, the ads highlights two findings from a National Science Foundation poll that the viewer is invited to assume are the outcome of these messages: 66 percent of fourth-grade girls say they like science and math, but only 18 percent of all college engineering majors are female. Such statistics are also regularly trotted out when government and feminist groups seek to justify more intervention in academia to correct the intractable problem that, because of societal sexism, there simply aren&rsquo;t enough women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">Yet statistics like this tell us absolutely nothing about why men and women end up choosing the majors and careers that they do.</span></p> <p class="p2"> <span style="color:#ff0000;"><strong><span class="s2">Such statistics are also regularly trotted out when government and feminist groups seek to justify more intervention in academia.</span></strong></span></p> <p class="p3"> First, as the mother of three girls, one of whom will enter fourth grade this fall, I can tell you that younger kids tend to report liking just about every subject in school. Science class is often particularly appealing, because it&rsquo;s much more hands-on and usually involves some interesting projects, unlike spelling, grammar, and math, which revolve around drilling and memorization. My daughter&rsquo;s third-grade science course focused on the solar system, the earth&rsquo;s crust, and then animals and insects. She loved it, consistently calls science her favorite class, and will often respond that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up, so she can spend her time &ldquo;inventing and making stuff.&rdquo;</p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">Does this mean I have a budding scientist or future engineer? That would be wonderful, of course, and part of my job as a parent to encourage such interests, so we&rsquo;ve invested in all the kids&rsquo; science kits, books, and microscopes. But I am also aware that her interests may change as science and engineering become more technical and English and other disciplines become more appealing. If she ultimately moves away from science and math, that doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean something has gone wrong.</span></p> <p class="p4"> <span style="color:#696969;"><strong><span class="s2">Girls Have Other Options</span></strong></span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">There has been a great deal of hard research into why men and women end up focusing on different subject and career areas. For example, research shows that women who tend to have a high aptitude for math and science are also high-aptitude in other areas, while men with high aptitudes in math and science have fewer other academic strengths. This means that promising female engineers have other options, so many act on other preferences and considerations, while potential male engineers have fewer alternatives. Women also express greater preferences for careers that put them in direct touch with people and aren&rsquo;t as satisfied with what can be the more isolated environment of the lab. You can read more about such factors and research in <a href=""><span class="s1">this paper</span></a>, or in <a href=";qid=1403861522&amp;sr=8-2&amp;keywords=women+in+science+hoff+sommers"><span class="s1">this book</span></a> edited by the American Enterprise Institute&rsquo;s Christina Hoff Sommers.</span></p> <p class="p2"> <span style="color:#ff0000;"><strong><span class="s2">We shouldn&rsquo;t assume success requires that women and men to be equally interested in all subject matters.</span></strong></span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">Of course, we want our daughters to know that all options are open to them and to have female role models in areas like math and science. We want our society to send messages so that girls recognize their true value isn&rsquo;t their appearance. Our society should mentor girls and young women to try to encourage a continuing love of science and math.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">Yet we shouldn&rsquo;t assume success requires that women and men to be equally interested in all subject matters, and to think that differences in outcomes are driven by sexism. Particularly when government gets involved, the focus can become making the numbers add up, which means that part of the solution can become discouraging boys, rather than encouraging girls, and cajoling girls into arenas that may not ultimately be their best fit.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2">So take from this ad that society needs to consider the messages we send to our daughters (and sons, for that matter), but let&rsquo;s make one of the messages we push be this: Equality of opportunity, rather than equal outcomes, is the true mark of a fair society.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s2"><i>Carrie Lukas is the managing director at </i><a href=""><span class="s1"><i>Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</i></span></a><i> and co-author of </i>Liberty Is No War on Women<i>.&nbsp;</i></span></p> L. LukasTue, 8 Jul 2014 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPaid Leave and Employee Morale<p> In yesterday&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://1.1842348">New York Daily News</a>, IWF&rsquo;s friend, SE Cupp wrote a great piece about the tradeoffs with family leave policies.&nbsp; She cited important research from business groups on the potential unintended consequences of mandated paid leave:</p> <blockquote> <p> ...the NFIB Research Foundation examined multiple proposals to mandate paid leave and concluded it could cost between 12,000 and 16,000 jobs over several years, and cost billions in lost economic output. &quot;There is no way to force employers to provide an expensive benefit without forcing some of them to make cuts elsewhere,&quot; said NFIB State Director Bill Vernon. &quot;The result will be some combination of fewer hours for employers, weaker productivity for businesses and fewer opportunities for job seekers.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p> This is important information for people to have &ndash; so often it&rsquo;s easy to see the benefits of such government mandates (more paid leave would be great!) and overlook the costs of such proposals (lower take-home pay and fewer jobs, especially for women).&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet I disagree with one item that SE Cupp puts in the benefit column for paid leave.&nbsp; She writes:</p> <blockquote> <p> Who doesn&#39;t think that this is a generous and productive policy that will make for a happier workforce and stronger families? No one who&#39;s being honest.</p> </blockquote> <p> I wouldn&rsquo;t be so quick to assume that the workplace would be more congenial or happier if employees were all eligible for generous paid leave benefits.&nbsp; In fact, having lived in Europe for several years now, I&rsquo;ve seen how the opposite can occur.&nbsp; Employees often seem to resent when coworkers disappear for lengthy paid time-off as more responsibilities are juggled their way.&nbsp; I&rsquo;ve seen eyes roll with the mention &ldquo;she&rsquo;s having another baby,&rdquo; and annoyance that while this worker will be spending the summer at her desk in the office, her coworker will be paid to play in the park with her 4 month old.&nbsp; This is especially true when you factor in that there are plenty of people (particularly women) who end up not having babies but wanted to, and also plenty who have no intention of having children and resent that their bosses think they might disappear for a year and therefore can&rsquo;t be taken seriously.&nbsp;</p> <p> I&rsquo;d even be carefully making assumptions about stronger families.&nbsp; It seems logical, but one confounding question in Europe (particularly in Germany, where I currently live) has been why generous public support systems for parents (including paid leave mandates) have coincided with a decline in birth rates.&nbsp; Perhaps their families are strong, but there are&nbsp;<a href="">very few babies</a>&nbsp;resulting from them.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> L. LukasThu, 26 Jun 2014 03:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOlder Women Hit With Highest ObamaCare Costs<p> Remember how women were supposed to be the big winners from ObamaCare?&nbsp; &nbsp;The government&rsquo;s prohibition on insurers from taking into account gender and health status when setting premiums, along with all the free contraception and preventative care, was supposed to make the new system a windfall for women.</p> <p> That was always a stretch, as <a href="">YG Network&rsquo;s April Ponnuru and I wrote about here</a>.&nbsp; Women have always tended to manage their families&rsquo; doctor relationships and as ObamaCare is encouraging more restrictive provider networks, that task just got a lot more complicated for millions of women.</p> <p> Yet as the <a href="">Washington Post reports</a>, new research shows that women between the ages of 55 and 64 are also likely to be hit the hardest by the increased health care costs created by ObamaCare:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> What Mark Pauly, Scott Harrington, and Adam Leive of the Wharton School have done is to figure out how much non-elderly&nbsp;individuals spent on insurance before the ACA and then compared these figures with what they&rsquo;ll spend after the ACA.&nbsp; They did this by using survey data for 2010 through 2012 from the Census Bureau&rsquo;s&nbsp;<em>Current Population Survey</em>&nbsp;that show how much people spent on health care, including premiums and out of pocket payments.&nbsp; By looking at the total spent rather than just on premiums, the data reflect the fact that someone who buys a policy with a low premium can expect to have higher out of pocket costs, and vice versa. &nbsp;They report their findings in a&nbsp;<a href="">paper</a>&nbsp;from the National Bureau of Economic Research.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> For post-ACA prices, they looked at the premiums for the various levels of coverage (these levels are classified according to various metals: bronze, silver, gold and platinum) and estimated out of pocket payments according to data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The data were tabulated by age and gender for the bronze and the two lowest price silver plans.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> After crunching the numbers, they found that people&nbsp;who buy the bronze or silver plans on the federal exchanges will spend a moderate amount more&nbsp; &mdash; from $694 to $1,165 a year, or 14 to 24 percent&nbsp;&mdash; on premiums and out of pocket expenses than they did before the health reform took effect.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> However, that average figure masks a huge redistribution of the costs to older women from nearly everyone else.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> Total expected premiums and out of pocket expenses rose by 50 percent for women age 55 to 64 &mdash; a much larger increase than for any other group &mdash; for policies on the federal exchanges relative to prices that individuals who bought individual insurance before health care reform went into effect.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> Women age 55 to 64 will pay from $2,185 to $2,738 more in&nbsp;premiums and out of pocket &nbsp;expenses under the new health insurance environment than they did pre-ACA.</p> <p> Women <a href="">never really bought</a> the line about ObamaCare being able to costless shower free goodies on everyone, increase insurance coverage, lower health care spending, all without compromising access to quality care.&nbsp; Especially women in this age group have been around enough to recognize a fairytale when they hear one.</p> <p> Yet they might be surprised to learn just how heavily it is they&mdash;not those young, invincible men we heard so much about during sign up season&mdash;who will be bearing the brunt of ObamaCare&rsquo;s higher costs.&nbsp;</p> <p> Women be warned, this won&rsquo;t be the last bad news about the effects of this law that will be making headlines.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasWed, 25 Jun 2014 05:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJob Creation Is the Real Key to Helping Working Families<p> President Obama dreams of an American economy in which all workers have ample paid leave benefits, maximum flexibility, and, of course, receive more than a living wage.&nbsp; Yet in making his case for this vision, in this <a href="">oped</a> that appeared in the Huffington Post in conjunction with the White House &ldquo;Summit on Working Families,&rdquo; the President&mdash;perhaps unsurprisingly, given his Administration&rsquo;s economic record&mdash;seems unfamiliar with the costs associated with greater benefits, the tradeoffs that workers and employers must consider when creating compensation packages, and the sad reality that the biggest problem facing many Americans today isn&rsquo;t that their jobs pay too little or offer too few benefits, but that they cannot find enough work at all.</p> <p> The official, national unemployment rate in May 2014 was 6.3 percent, which has been touted by the Administration as evidence that the economy is heading in the right direction.&nbsp; Yet when those who are employed part-time but who want full-time work and discouraged workers are included in the numbers, the unemployment rate jumps to <a href="">12.2 percent</a>.&nbsp; Most Americans who hear from friends and neighbors about ongoing economic struggles will likely agree that number more accurately reflects the job situation today:&nbsp; There are still simply not enough positions for those who want jobs.</p> <p> Indeed, lack of employment, not low wages, is the biggest factor creating poverty today. According to the <a href="">U.S. Census</a>, in 2012 (the most recent data available), just under one-in-ten working age adults living in poverty had full-time, year-round work, while two-thirds had no work at all. &nbsp;Proposals to raise the minimum wage or increase mandatory benefits will do nothing to help these Americans who lack employment, even worse would make it even less likely that they find work.</p> <p> The nonpartisan <a href="">Congressional Budget Office</a> estimated that the President&rsquo;s proposed minimum-wage hike to $10.10 per hour would result in 500,000 fewer jobs nationwide.&nbsp; The President should at least acknowledge that there are tradeoffs that come from increasing employment costs and the availability of positions, particularly for those with the fewest skills and experience.&nbsp; Already American teenagers who are seeking those vital first jobs, which provide value and experience far greater than just their paychecks, are suffering from unemployment rates well in to the double digits. That problem is particularly pronounced for minority youths:&nbsp; Nationwide, <a href="">the unemployment rate in March 2014 for African-American teenagers </a>was almost double the rate for whites, a jaw-dropping 38 percent.&nbsp; A higher-minimum wage will make this problem worse.&nbsp;</p> <p> The President doesn&rsquo;t just want to require companies to pay higher wages; he also wants more generous benefit packages.&nbsp; He laments that too many workers lack the ability to receive time off for a school play, can&rsquo;t work from home when a child is sick, or take leave for a new baby or to care for a sick loved one.&nbsp; He writes, &ldquo;the United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> First, this is a gross mischaracterization of the American economy and work world.&nbsp; The United States lacks a law that requires employers to provide paid maternity leave, but that does not mean that paid maternity leave and other leave benefits are non-existent in America.&nbsp; In fact, most full-time workers have paid leave benefits and make use of those benefits following the birth of a child.&nbsp; The&nbsp;<a href="">Census Bureau</a>&nbsp;reports on the leave practices employed by working women after giving birth:&nbsp; 56 percent of full-time working women used paid leave following the birth, 42 percent used unpaid leave, 10 percent used disability leave, 19 percent quit their job, and nearly 5 percent reported being let go (this adds up to more than 100 percent because some women used more than one category of leave).&nbsp; Part-time workers were more likely to quit (37 percent reported quitting their jobs) and had less access to benefits:&nbsp; 20 percent used paid leave, 46 percent used unpaid leave, and just 2 percent had disability leave.&nbsp;</p> <p> Certainly this data doesn&rsquo;t live up to the vision of all workers enjoying generous leave packages, but it does indicate that most businesses recognize the need for time off and believe it makes good business sense to provide such benefits, even absent a legal requirement.&nbsp; The President himself provides examples of companies that are models of family-friendly workplaces, but he misses that this is evidence that the market can encourage advancement in that direction and that one-size-fits-all government programs may actually discourage such innovation and flexibility.</p> <p> The President should keep in mind that not all workers have the same preferences for benefits over take-home pay, and different jobs lend themselves to different kinds of flexible work arrangements.&nbsp; Government mandates, however well intentioned, prevent employers and employees from finding mutually beneficial arrangements.&nbsp; And while the President suggests that women would be the greatest beneficiaries of more aggressive government mandates, women also end up paying a high price in terms of lost economic opportunity.&nbsp; Supporters of family leave mandates often point to Western Europe as a model, but American women are far more likely than their European peers to be <a href="">breaking glass ceilings</a>. &nbsp;Undoubtedly, one reason why is that European business leaders know that women in their childbearing years are likely to disappear for months, even years, at a time, and therefore don&rsquo;t consider them for leadership positions.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s hardly a culture encouraging women to &ldquo;lean in.&rdquo;</p> <p> The best way to ensure that people have the benefits and resources they need is to create an environment in which there are plentiful jobs.&nbsp; That way employers must compete for workers, and workers can select compensation packages that make sense for them.&nbsp; Sadly, that&rsquo;s not the situation that we have in America today, and the President&rsquo;s prescription for more government mandates and higher employment costs would take us farther in the wrong direction.&nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the </em><a href=""><em>Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</em></a><em> and author of a chapter on work-family policies for </em><a href=""><em>YG Network&rsquo;s Room to Grow</em></a><em>.&nbsp;</em></p> L. LukasTue, 24 Jun 2014 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Nation’s Bizarre Exposé of Rush Limbaugh’s ‘Secret’ 2007 Donation to IWF <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Eli Clifton at&nbsp;<a href=""><span class="s2"><i>The Nation</i></span></a><i>&nbsp;</i>seems to think that he got a scoop that Rush Limbaugh donated money to the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum in support of our 2007 Women of Valor dinner, honoring Nancy Brinker for her leadership in fighting breast cancer. That was hardly a secret: He was acknowledged as a top sponsor in the program at the dinner, and has always been listed in our publicly available tax records. For the record, Rush hasn&rsquo;t donated to IWF since 2007 &mdash; though we would certainly welcome his support again.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Clifton seems to think that there is some conspiracy because Rush financially supported one of our programs and IWF writers such as myself have at times written in his defense. He notes a handful of instances over the past seven years when we have written or spoken publicly about controversies involving Rush, and the fact that we have continued to critique Sandra Fluke, to imply that we were long ago bought off.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">I don&rsquo;t know how familiar Clifton is with IWF&rsquo;s work, but we have a blog that is updated daily, usually several times a day. IWF spokeswomen usually go on radio a couple times a day, and on TV several times a week. That means that we comment on a lot of controversies, particularly ones that involve politics, policy, and women. It should hardly be surprising that the topic of Rush Limbaugh has come up over the years and that, given our shared support for limited government and free markets, that we&rsquo;ve often been on the same side.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">When it comes to Sandra Fluke, this is a woman that the left has presented as an authority on health policy issues, and she has been given provident roles at the Democratic National Convention and even introduced the president at a campaign event. We have consistently considered her arguments and exposed what we see as flaws in her logic. Clifton acknowledges that Charlotte Hays wrote&nbsp;<a href="!"><span class="s2">critically</span></a>&nbsp;of Rush Limbaugh&rsquo;s insults of Fluke, and partially quotes&nbsp;<a href=""><span class="s2">my piece</span></a>&nbsp;on this topic, but leaves out some key elements, like the second two paragraphs:</span></p> <p class="p2"> <span class="s1"><i>Full disclosure: I&rsquo;m a regular listener to Rush Limbaugh. I enjoy his political perspective and humor, and am generally impressed with his treatment of his callers, which non-listeners might not know is overwhelmingly respectful and cordial, even when he disagrees with them on the issues.</i></span></p> <p class="p2"> <span class="s1"><i>And I know that this means that I have a certain bias. I&rsquo;m familiar with Rush&rsquo;s arguments, and it&rsquo;s easy for me to place comments that he makes into the context of what I know to be his world view.</i></span></p> <p class="p3"> <i>That&rsquo;s not to excuse his calling Sandra Fluke offensive and inappropriate terms. Beyond being rude, it distracted from the central discussion of what&rsquo;s at stake with this HHS mandate.</i></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">From listening to Rush, I know what point he wanted to make. He wanted to highlight the absurdity of women, under the banner of feminism, who want to be seen as independent as they try to force other people to pay for their choices and lifestyle. Painting yourself as a victim for having to figure out how to buy your own contraception, especially when you are enrolled at one of the nation&rsquo;s most prestigious law schools, is pretty difficult to mesh with the idea of true independence. Grossly exaggerating the costs of contraception invites jokes &mdash; childish to be sure &mdash; about how exactly one could run up such a tab.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Does Clifton really think that the reason why I tried to put his remarks in context was because Rush had donated money to IWF five years earlier? Could it possibly be that I too believe that government mandates forcing companies to provide a product free to users is an inappropriate use of government power and will have harmful effects on the health care system and market?</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Certainly Rush makes some statements and characterizations that I don&rsquo;t agree with and has been harsh in criticizing his opponents. Yet he is hardly alone in such missteps, and though outlets like&nbsp;<i>The Nation&nbsp;</i>undoubtedly choose to ignore it, some of the most&nbsp;<a href=""><span class="s2">grotesque attacks</span></a>&nbsp;on women come from leading figures and entertainers on the left and are&nbsp;<a href=""><span class="s2">targeted at conservatives</span></a>.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">With this article, <i>The Nation</i> joins the proud tradition on the Left of trying to slander opponents by focusing on who funds them &mdash;&nbsp;<i>have you heard? We used to (years ago now) receive money from Koch Foundations too!&nbsp;</i><a href=";list=UUg_s5BRCyjhOHbOyZQC3gDg"><span class="s2"><i>Harry Reid brought it up on the Senate floor</i></span></a><i>&nbsp;&ndash; what a scandal!&nbsp;</i>&mdash; rather than take on our arguments. I&rsquo;m sure that&nbsp;<i>The Nation</i>&nbsp;and Clifton aren&rsquo;t so curious about who funds groups on the left, though I bet they could find far more cozy and compromising relationships among leading liberal organizations than Rush&rsquo;s almost decade-old, publicly-acknowledged contribution to IWF.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1"><i>Carrie Lukas is the managing director at the&nbsp;</i><a href=""><span class="s2"><i>Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</i></span></a><i>&nbsp;and co-author of Liberty is Now War on Women.</i></span></p> <p class="p5"> &nbsp;</p> <p class="p5"> &nbsp;</p> L. LukasFri, 13 Jun 2014 17:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIgnoring Economic Costs Isn't Compassionate<p> Jessica Grose at&nbsp;<em><a href="">Slate</a></em>&nbsp;attempts to argue that Christians should support government paid family-leave programs. Grose does a sloppy job of making the connection, but certainly she is not the first to argue that Christian faith should lead people to support more generous government support systems for families. The flaw in her argument is that most Christians are more sophisticated than she imagines when it comes to thinking about public policy.</p> <p> Strip away the &ldquo;What would&nbsp;Jesus&nbsp;do&rdquo; ornamentation, and her real argument for government-mandated paid family leave is simply that too few workers &mdash; particularly low-income workers &mdash; have access to such benefits.&nbsp; She specifically takes issue with what I authored for the YG Network: &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> A recent publication put out by the YG Network, a conservative policy nonprofit, called Room to Grow, argues&nbsp;<a href="">that paid family leave from the government is a bad idea</a>&nbsp;because, &ldquo;while it would assist some women, it would also disrupt the employment contracts of the majority of working Americans who currently have leave benefit [sic]. This new federal entitlement would encourage businesses currently providing paid leave programs&mdash;including more generous leave packages&mdash;to cease doing so.&rdquo;</p> <p> First of all, the majority of working Americans don&rsquo;t have leave &ldquo;benefit,&rdquo; unless you count&nbsp;<a href="">unpaid FMLA leave</a>, which doesn&rsquo;t cover about 40 percent of employees. Oh, and some studies&nbsp;<a href="">show that almost 20 percent</a>&nbsp;of employers don&rsquo;t comply with FMLA leave anyway. So then, YG Network is actually talking about the 11&nbsp;<a href="">percent of pretty exclusively upper class workers who get paid family leave</a>, and who might lose some of that leave in order for 100 percent of workers to get any paid leave at all.</p> <p> (First, I&rsquo;m not sure where Grose pulled that quote &mdash; in the&nbsp;<a href="">actual chapter</a>&nbsp;available at YGNetwork, there is no typo in &ldquo;benefits.&rdquo;&nbsp;Perhaps there is a typo in some marketing material or in a derivative quote, but Grose ought to consider reading the actual chapter too.)</p> <p> Grose&rsquo;s data concerns workers with paid family-leave benefits only, but that is not a good proxy for paid-leave benefits that are available following the birth of a child.&nbsp; Many companies prefer to offer more general &ldquo;personal leave&rdquo; that can be used for family leave, sick time, vacation, or other reasons, rather than have different categories of leave, which can be more burdensome to administer. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Fortunately, the&nbsp;<a href="">Census Bureau</a>&nbsp;has research that shows what generally happens to working women following the birth of a child.&nbsp;Census reports that 56 percent of full-time working women used paid leave following the birth, 42 percent used unpaid leave, 10 percent used disability leave, 19 percent quit their job, and nearly 5 percent reported being let go (this adds up to more than 100 percent because some women used more than one category of leave).&nbsp; Part-time workers were more likely to quit (37 percent reported quitting their jobs) and had less access to benefits:&nbsp; 20 percent used paid leave, 46 percent used unpaid leave, and just 2 percent had disability leave.&nbsp;Census also found that three months after the birth, 59 percent of the women who worked during pregnancy had returned to work, and 79 percent were working by their child&rsquo;s first birthday.</p> <p> This data doesn&rsquo;t lead to the conclusion that all Americans have access to adequate leave time &mdash; a point I explicitly made &mdash; but it also should caution against Grose&rsquo;s hasty conclusion that 89 percent of workers would be better off under a government-run leave system.&nbsp;</p> <p> As I write in&nbsp;<em><a href="">Room to Grow</a></em>, there are costs to government-mandated leave policies that ought to be considered, including that these mandates depress wages and reduce economic opportunity for women.&nbsp;Supporters of paid family leave often point to Europe as a model we ought to follow, but ignore the reality that women there are much less likely to be&nbsp;<a href="">breaking glass ceilings</a>&nbsp;than are their American sisters. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Certainly there are a lot of women who would prefer to have more generous leave packages.&nbsp; Many employers are moving in that direction, and technology is making possible new solutions, such as job sharing and work-from-home arrangements.&nbsp;A one-size-fits-all government program (like the FAMILY Act) would discourage this continued evolution, and the economic consequences, particularly for women, deserve more serious consideration than Grose can apparently muster.&nbsp;</p> <p> Rather than dictate the leave policy for all workers, policymakers ought to focus their efforts on helping those who truly face hardship because of the lack of leave&nbsp;following the birth of a child.&nbsp; As I write in&nbsp;<em><a href="">Room to Grow</a></em>, an initiative modeled on the EITC could help the working poor following the birth of a child, without distorting economic incentives for hiring these workers.&nbsp;</p> <p> Jesus taught us to show compassion for those in need. He didn&rsquo;t tell us to ignore the real-life consequences of economic policies.</p> <p> <em>&mdash; Carrie Lukas is a vice president at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Voice and managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> L. LukasThu, 12 Jun 2014 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum