Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Democrat Leaders Just Don’t Get It<p> Helping women succeed in the workplace, and balance family and professional demands, sometimes requires a change in attitude and a little flexibility.&nbsp; People using a bit of commonsense can often find win-win solutions to the challenges that women face:&nbsp; Bosses who greenlight more flexible arrangements&mdash;whether that&rsquo;s allowing an employee to work from home when their child is sick, facilitating job sharing or telecommuting, or some other non-traditional work arrangement&mdash;will often find that they are rewarded with greater employee&rsquo; loyalty and efficiency.&nbsp; Those who stubbornly refuse to work with employees to meet their needs will have trouble retaining valued workers.</p> <p> Democrats, the official party of the traditional feminists, often talk about the need for a societal change to make corporations and other institutions more sensitive to women&rsquo;s needs.&nbsp; Yet when it comes to actually walking-the-walk of providing women a little bit of flexibility, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi&rsquo;s response to a pregnant Member&rsquo;s request to vote by proxy suggests that she just doesn&rsquo;t get it and needs a change in attitude of her own.&nbsp;</p> <p> Rep. Tammy Duckworth (a Democrat representing Illinois&rsquo;s 8<sup>th</sup> congressional district, who is also a war veteran who lost both her legs while serving) wanted to be able to vote in her party&rsquo;s leadership elections next week by proxy because she was ordered by her doctor not to travel this late in her pregnancy (she is due with her first child next month).&nbsp; Rep. Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership refused her request.&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="http://thefederalist.com/2014/11/17/democrats-deny-pregnant-representative-a-leadership-vote-because-they-fear-her-pick/">News reports</a> suggest that part of the decision is raw politics&mdash;Duckworth is expected to vote in a way not favored by Rep. Pelosi for a key committee slot.&nbsp; Therefore, Pelosi may have nixed the request just to get the outcome she wanted in her party&rsquo;s election.&nbsp; Other factors certainly play into the decision:&nbsp; Democrats likely feel they have little to lose from shutting down Duckworth&rsquo;s request since the election is over.&nbsp; Vocal feminist groups are Democrats steadfast allies, so are unlikely to kick up a real fuss.&nbsp; And the mainstream media dutifully parrots the idea that Democrats are the party of working women so will likely just ignore this inconvenient little news story.</p> <p> Yet this decision also provides a little window into how the Left views the issues surrounding women in the workplace.&nbsp; One Democrat aide explained that they decided not to lift the ban on proxy votes for &ldquo;slippery slope&rdquo; reasons.&nbsp; In other words, Democratic leaders claim that if they grant a proxy in this circumstance, it will be harder not to grant one the next time.&nbsp;</p> <p> Should the American people, and particularly Rep. Duckworth, accept this excuse?&nbsp;</p> <p> <u>I say no</u>.&nbsp; Surely, the Democrat leadership is capable of considering requests on their merits.&nbsp; After all, such decision making and use of discretion is one of the principles of leadership.&nbsp; Every employer has to make such judgments:&nbsp; Should I grant this leave request or authorize this expense?&nbsp; To make such determinations, they consider the merits of the case and the record of the employee.&nbsp;</p> <p> A thinking person ought to be able to recognize that this is a circumstance&mdash;a Member approaching the end of pregnancy, who is having a baby relatively late in life and likely faces significant health risks&mdash;that merits accommodation.&nbsp; Another situation, even health related, might not, if that Member still has the ability to travel or to change the date of a procedure.</p> <p> Shouldn&rsquo;t our political leaders be able to assess such situations and make such rational judgments?&nbsp;</p> <p> Apparently the answer is no, which may be why they are also champions of one-size-fits-all mandates that would eliminate all discretion for other employees and employers. <a href="http://www.iwf.org/publications/2792913/Policy-Focus:-The-FAMILY-Act">The FAMILY Act</a>, for example, would displace the current employment arrangement of all working Americans and create a federal leave entitlement so that all workers are eligible for 12 weeks of taxpayer-funded paid leave.</p> <p> Such a generous paid leave policy may sound nice, until one considers both the actual costs and how this will work in practice for working women and employers. Employers faced with an employee who needs leave can no longer say, &ldquo;Yes, you can work at home for the next three months while you take care of a personal situation, but I really need you to come in Wednesday afternoon to meet with the client.&rdquo; &nbsp;Women would be discouraged from considering alternative, part-time or non-traditional work-arrangements that might be more sustainable.&nbsp; And of course, employers faced with rigid leave policies will also change how they view their employees.&nbsp; Employers would have more reason to proceed cautiously in hiring, particularly in hiring women and mothers who could be expected to make greater use of the federal leave benefits. &nbsp;This is hardly a policy that is likely to encourage companies to consider women for more significant, leadership positions.</p> <p> Real flexibility doesn&rsquo;t come from a federal mandate.&nbsp; Real flexibility involves back-and-forth and the exercise of discretion and consideration on the part of both parties.&nbsp; Rep. Pelosi may be acting hypocritical given all her &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo; rhetoric, but her decision with Rep. Duckworth epitomizes the inflexibility of the government policies she supports.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&#39;s Forum.&nbsp;</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2795615/Carrie L. LukasTue, 18 Nov 2014 11:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Administration Hopes Americans Won't Notice Their Latest Education Regulation<p> Cynicism is supposed to be a bad thing. We are supposed to believe that our fellow man shares our values and can generally be trusted. Yet sometimes cynicism is justified--even necessary. &nbsp;Certainly that is now the case when it comes to America&#39;s relationship with Washington politicians, and particularly this Administration.</p> <p> After all the public has learned about how the Administration purposefully deceived the public about the known consequences of the policies contains in ObamaCare, only a fool would accept what they say about how other proposed laws and initiatives will work without checking the fine print himself.</p> <p> Americans should keep this in mind as they learn about new regulations from the Department of Education. The regulations were released on the Friday before the election, naturally, which is just more evidence that the Administration doesn&#39;t want anyone paying close attention to what they are up to.</p> <p> The <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/disdainful-employment-rule-1416180491"><em>Wall Street Journal </em>editorial page</a> explains today how this latest version of the gainful employment rule, which the Administration claim is necessary to protect students, will in fact target higher education institutions that serve higher-risk, less-advantaged student populations. According to the Department, about 1,400 programs which currently serve 840,000 students won&#39;t meet the criteria under the new rule, and therefore students in these programs&mdash;who are far more likely to be minorities and come from low-income households and therefore have less financial support from their families than those at tradtional colleges and universities&mdash;won&#39;t have access to student loans.</p> <p> As I wrote in <a href="http://www.iwf.org/publications/2795136/Policy-Focus:-The-Gainful-Employment-Rule">this IWF policy focus</a>, if the Administration&#39;s real goal is to encourage a more efficient higher education system and protect students from valueless degrees, then they would focus on much more sweeping reform of the higher education system, rather than targeting one subset of higher education providers. Instead the rule reeks of elitism in decreeing that somehow an art history or anthropology degree from a taxpayer-supported public university has more intrinsic value and should be held to a different standard than a skills-based degree program from a for-profit education institution.</p> <p> We need a real education marketplace to meet the needs of all students &ndash; including those who are seeking education programs that offer technical expertise and help them gain entry into a discrete field such as mechanics, medical technicians, computer programming, and engineering to name but a few. The federal government should be focused on creating a level playing field for all higher education institutions rather than showering taxpayer-support on a favored few and crushing those that serve students most in need.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795593/Carrie L. LukasMon, 17 Nov 2014 04:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAn Entertainment Marketplace <p> I&rsquo;ve written before about the importance of <a href="http://iwf.org/blog/2791434/Protecting-Intellectual-Property:--A-Key-to-Growth-and-Progress">intellectual property rights</a> and the economic impact that cyber theft has on the economy and on innovation.&nbsp;</p> <p> Finding solutions to prevent or even punish intellectual property theft&mdash;whether it&rsquo;s foreign hackers stealing communications technologies, foreign companies illegally reproducing patented drugs or the illegal downloading of entertainment&mdash;can be a big challenge.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s why private initiatives to discourage intellectual property theft are so important. Particularly when it comes to movies, television shows, and other entertainment content, one important method of discouraging illegal downloading is by making that content easily accessible through legal outlets. &nbsp;</p> <p> To that end, the industry has created a new search engine--<a href="https://exch1.123together.com/owa/redir.aspx?C=SBSjFTdDl0-JnmbbCadKVy9JebIL0dFIhw0XIFelTJdOb5yNweKiaeMFWkoLwoWZ1J0TzBOWzHg.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.wheretowatch.org" target="_blank">http://www.wheretowatch.org</a>&mdash;that simplifies that process, helping users find the entertainment that they want through a legal source. &nbsp;Most entertainment content already is available online legally and inexpensively.&nbsp; As providers continue to compete for consumers, prices will continue to come down even as the quality and diversity of entertainment options increases.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s good news for the public.&nbsp;</p> <p> And hopefully, as the public becomes more aware of how these entertainment options can be readily accessed legally, fewer will resort to illegal downloading.&nbsp; And that&rsquo;s good news for anyone who values the rule of law. &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795566/Carrie L. LukasThu, 13 Nov 2014 02:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMen Can Be Pigs; We Knew This Before The Latest ‘Damsel In Distress’ Video <p> <em>This article has been updated below.</em></p> <p> I want to know more about the filming of the latest social media video sensation, which could be categorized under the growing &ldquo;men are pigs&rdquo; genre. In&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2830536/You-coming-home-Shocking-video-shows-men-taking-advantage-drunk-woman-trying-make-way-home.html">this one</a>, a pretty young actress pretends to be drunk and stumbles around Hollywood Boulevard, asking men for directions to the bus. Of the five men featured on the video, one seems like&nbsp;<em>maybe</em>&nbsp;he&rsquo;ll help her get home, rather than take advantage of her. The others, within moments of eying her, are rushing her back to their cars or apartments, with promises of help, beer, a bed, and anything else that might lure her closer to their bedrooms.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s pretty sickening to watch. I hope this video was very selectively cut. Surely she approached more than five men during the course of filming, and those left on the cutting room floor were more chivalrous, or at least less jaw-droppingly lecherous? Surely the producer picked this particular location because it&rsquo;s known for being populated by loiterers, criminals, or those seeking prostitutes? After all, it seems to be mid-day in the video and none of the guys appear to have any prior obligation that might have discouraged them from spending their afternoons taking advantage of a drunk young woman. Dare we hope that different circumstances might have yielded different results?</p> <p> Yet it is easy to see how the producer could have stacked the deck even more against men, say by filming at night or at a bar or party where the men were also drunk. One can imagine that, in those circumstances, there would have been a longer line of men fighting to take the drunk girl home.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a thoroughly depressing video. After all, even if the men featured were a minority and there were others who had wanted to help her, it&rsquo;s clear that women are too often surrounded by predators seeking to take advantage of any vulnerability.</p> <p> <strong>What a Free Society Can Do about Misbehaving Men</strong></p> <p> So what do we do about it? What are the takeaways from this video that might improve the situation?</p> <p> Of course, we can lecture men on how their behavior in this video is disgusting. The very existence of the video might help, in a small way, by reminding men that in this technological age where video cameras are imbedded in just about every device, they ought to consider if they&rsquo;d want their actions recorded and broadcast to the world. Men should, in cases like this, feel the threat of legal vulnerability. This is by necessity a gray area: A free society ought not attempt to outlaw all drunken sex; to do so would represent a significant loss of liberty. The idea that a woman under the influence of alcohol can never consent to sex reeks of a sexist strain of paternalism that conflicts with our idea of women as fully equal, responsible members of society.</p> <p> Yet clearly there are instances in which &ldquo;taking advantage of a situation&rdquo; crosses over the line into rape. This actress was pretending to be drunk enough that one could easily assume that she would have soon lost consciousness. It seems sadly unlikely that the men on the video would have found that as an obstacle to an afternoon of fun with her. That clearly would have made them rapists, even if it would be difficult to prove their guilt in the legal arena.</p> <p> While our immediate reaction may be to condemn men and focus on possible ways to change their behavior and inculcate greater respect for women, clearly the biggest, immediate takeaway for anyone who wants to prevent women from being sexually exploited is to urge women not to leave themselves so vulnerable.</p> <p> <strong>Women Need to Be Smart</strong></p> <p> Yes, in a perfect world, a pretty young woman ought to be able to stumble around drunk in a short dress and no harm would come to her. But we aren&rsquo;t in a perfect world. Not even close. And since young women are going to pay the biggest price from the current situation&mdash;and that will remain the case regardless of what intrusive &ldquo;affirmative consent&rdquo; laws happen to be on the books&mdash;it makes sense that short-term prevention measures begin with women.</p> <p> Changing men&rsquo;s behavior, at best, will take a very long time. No legal regime can solve this problem, and attempts to institute such a one will come with significant drawbacks (see <a href="http://www.iwf.org/publications/2794912/Straight-Talk-Booklet">here</a>&nbsp;for more on this). That means that much of the burden has to fall on women to do what they can to protect themselves.</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s hope that women seeing this video come away with a few common-sense lessons: If you are going to drink, make sure you do so in the company of others who will help ensure your safety. Before you start drinking, figure out how you will get home on your own without having to rely on the kindness of strangers&mdash;since many strangers aren&rsquo;t kind at all. If you have to ask someone for help, ask a woman.</p> <p> We can rail against how awful it is that men would seek to take advantage of a woman like this but, in the short-term at least, that&rsquo;s not going to do much to help women or reduce sexual exploitation. It may not be fair, but it&rsquo;s reality: Women have to be their own first line of defense.</p> <p> <em>UPDATE: Since this article was published, I&rsquo;ve learned that&nbsp;<a href="http://thesmokinggun.com/documents/drunk-girl-viral-hoax-video-785463">this video was indeed a hoax</a>: The men in the film were told how to act and given lines to say to the actress. Reportedly, the men are now rightfully angry for being depicted as would-be rapists. I&rsquo;m embarrassed to have fallen for the message in the video. I had thought that it might have been selectively edited, but never thought it would have been fully scripted. Next time, I&rsquo;ll remember to be more cynical about propaganda films, and less cynical about men.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2795562/Carrie L. LukasWed, 12 Nov 2014 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLet's Start a New Season of Treating Women like Grown-Ups<p> The 2014 election season marks the moment when the &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo; campaign ploy lost its political punch.&nbsp; Democrats had counted on a substantial lead among women voters&mdash;particularly single women voters&mdash;to give them the edge in key elections once again, and trotted out all of the old hits, accusing their opponents of waging a &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo; and being secretly dedicated to rolling back women&rsquo;s progress.&nbsp; It didn&rsquo;t work.</p> <p> Political analysts will sift through the data and pour millions into follow-up studies to identify the reasons for Democrats&rsquo; crushing midterm election losses, and specifically why so many women changed allegiances, or, at the very least, failed to support their steady partner, the Democrats, during their time of need.&nbsp; Many factors likely played a role:&nbsp; renewed concerns about terrorism and national security issues; fear of Ebola and other alarming health outbreaks; continued economic anxiety and rising prices; and, the overwhelming sense that government is increasingly both incompetent and corrupt, from the IRS to the Secret Service to Veterans Affairs to the ObamaCare roll out.&nbsp; Surely all of this contributed to women&rsquo;s dissatisfaction with the party at the helm during this time of disturbing American decline.</p> <p> Yet one hopes that this election also reflects a rejection of hackneyed, over-the-top political ploys.&nbsp; As IWF&rsquo;s Charlotte Hays put it, the &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo;<a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2795014/Has-the-%22War-on-Women%22-Jumped-the-Shark-"> jumped the shark</a> this election season.&nbsp; The overblown rhetoric that Democrats hoped would enthuse the base instead often elicited laughter.&nbsp; Colorado&rsquo;s Mark Udall earned the nickname &ldquo;Mark Uterus&rdquo; for his obsessive invoking of women&rsquo;s reproductive issues and attempts to paint his opponent as a crusader bent on eliminating women&rsquo;s access to birth control.&nbsp; That charge became increasingly laughable as Republican Corey Gardner highlighted his support for making contraceptive pills available over-the-counter.</p> <p> DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz epitomized another particularly offensive aspect of the Left&rsquo;s War on Women mantra &ndash; conflating conservative political beliefs with actual violence against women. &ldquo;Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand.&nbsp; I know that is stark.&nbsp; I know this is direct.&nbsp; But that is reality.&rdquo; She continued:&nbsp; &ldquo;what tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.&rdquo;</p> <p> She claimed &ldquo;that is reality,&rdquo; but of course, it&rsquo;s not reality, and voters knew it.&nbsp; In fact, it was a pathetic attempt to demonize a candidate with different political beliefs as a monster.&nbsp; Such casual use of such violent imagery should be abhorrent to anyone who takes violence against women seriously and who believes that our country needs honest debate about real issues and different policy alternatives.</p> <p> And perhaps this season the public, particularly women, did finally have their fill of this kind of politics.&nbsp; Perhaps with real threats back in the news&mdash;beheadings by ISIS, mysterious contagious illnesses, riots in the Midwest&mdash;the trumped-up rhetoric lost all appeal.</p> <p> The public ought to have always been skeptical of the &ldquo;War on Women&rdquo; charges.&nbsp; After all, if the GOP really has long been secretly dedicating to eroding women&rsquo;s rights, why don&rsquo;t women remember the early 2000s, with a President Bush and Republican Congress, as a dark age when they suffered a catastrophic loss of access to birth control and were shunted from the workplace?&nbsp; If the GOP really wanted to throw seniors into the streets, denying them Medicare and Social Security, and end assistance for needy women and children, why did none of this come to pass when they had power before?</p> <p> Hopefully America finally saw these scare tactics for what they are&mdash;politics at its worst&mdash;and want a more sober conversation about the challenges that are facing this country.&nbsp; Politicians may soon find that it is better and more effective to acknowledge the rationale behind their opponent&rsquo;s positions, while explaining why they believe their path will prove more effective.&nbsp; Just as Republicans can turn off voters by characterizing liberal plans as nothing more than vote-buying devices designed to expand the ranks of those dependent on government, Democrats should recognize that it isn&rsquo;t enough to call those who oppose expanding government regulations or benefit programs &ldquo;anti-woman&rdquo;.&nbsp; Rather, they should acknowledge our concerns about how government intrusions are eroding economic opportunities and discouraging job creation, and then present their counter-arguments to the best of their ability.</p> <p> I&rsquo;d presume that such a fact-based discussion of the real tradeoffs that come with different policy approaches would favor conservatives.&nbsp; But surely liberals who believe in the efficacy of their arguments ought to feel similarly confident in their ability to win a fair fight.&nbsp; Yet more importantly, certainly America would benefit if we paid more attention to the actual tradeoffs between different policy options, rather than having to hear politicians smearing the other side.&nbsp; Let&rsquo;s hope that a more substantive discussion of public policy&mdash;and particularly how policies impact women&mdash;starts today.</p> http://iwf.org/news/2795494/Carrie L. LukasWed, 5 Nov 2014 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCounty Government Hit with Big ObamaCare Fines<p> Taxpayers paying close attention to their state and local budget debates may notice a new line item that has to be accounted for:&nbsp; penalties paid to the federal government for ObamaCare compliance. &nbsp;</p> <p> As <a href="http://www.modbee.com/news/local/article3429074.html">California&rsquo;s Modesto Bee</a> reports:</p> <blockquote> <p> Stanislaus County government will pay the penalty rather than provide health coverage to certain part-time employees. And it will closely watch time sheets of workers to avoid additional penalties for employers under the Affordable Care Act next year.</p> <p> Starting in 2015, the federal law will require the county and other employers to pay penalties if they don&rsquo;t provide health coverage to employees who work 30 or more hours a week over a six-month period. County health benefits are not provided to all 30-hour-per-week employees. The county will be penalized $3,000 for each of those &ldquo;variable hour&rdquo; workers who buys coverage from the Covered California health exchange and qualifies for a subsidy to lower premiums.</p> <p> Tuesday, staff told the Board of Supervisors there are about 50 employees in that category and some are eligible for a subsidy, which could translate to $33,000 in penalties. County leaders chose to pay the feds after learning basic coverage for the workers could cost up to $50,000 annually.</p> </blockquote> <p> Those in charge of balancing the local government budget are prudently weighing their options, just like businesses around the country have been in response to ObamaCare&rsquo;s new costs and obligations.&nbsp; In this case, providing health care to these workers is more costly than paying the penalties, so they are forking over more than $30,000 to the feds.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s probably about the salary of one of those part-time workers for an entire year, so local taxpayers might well ask themselves why the federal government is ceasing so much of their tax revenue which could be used to create a job&mdash;of even returned to the taxpayers themselves.</p> <p> Next year, county officials may find a new solution:&nbsp; They might figure out that rather than 50 part-time employees, they can do better with 25 full-time employees.&nbsp; That might be good news for some, though not for the employees that find themselves out of a job or for workers who preferred to have a part-time position.</p> <p> The media and ObamaCare defenders often imply that businesses are callous and acting unfairly when they make changes to their employment practices in response to ObamaCare&rsquo;s regulations.&nbsp; But this is how the real world works in any organization or entity that has scarce resources.&nbsp; If ObamaCare is going to create higher costs in one place, something will have to give somewhere else.&nbsp; Local governments across the country will be making the same calculations as Wal-Mart, fast food franchises, and local colleges. &nbsp;As a result, local government employees may find that they end up joining the ranks of those out of luck--and possibly out of a job--because of ObamaCare.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795450/Carrie L. LukasThu, 30 Oct 2014 03:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJust a Slip of the Sexist Tongue?<p> Conservatives must try to avoid playing the &ldquo;can you imagine what the reaction would be if Democrats did that!&rdquo; game too often.</p> <p> Yes, from the IRS scandal&#39;s tea party targeting (imagine if an IRS under a GOP administration targeted leftist get-out-the-vote groups!) to the President jetting off for fundraisers with fat cats after the terrorist attack and lost of an American ambassador in Benghazi, the hypocrisy and double standards are jaw dropping and infuriating. But liberal media bias is a fact of life as sure as the sun rising in the East and the changing of the tides. People should be encouraged to understand this reality and its impact, but trying to stop or change it is the political equivalent of yelling at the ocean.</p> <p> Understanding that it may be largely futile, I do want people to take note of this campaign moment highlighted on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/10/24/nikki-haleys-dem-opponent-escort-whore-out-the-door">Breitbart</a>. It features South Carolina&nbsp;Democrat gubernatorial candidate, State Senator Vincent Shaheen, rousing his fans and supporters, telling them that &ldquo;We are going to escort whore out the door.&quot; The person he if referring to is the state&#39;s sitting Republican governor, his opponent, Nikki Haley.</p> <p> If one feels charitable, one can imagine that this remark was a slip of the tongue. The sentence is poorly worded (it would sound more natural if he had said &ldquo;the whore&rdquo;) and he quickly, nervously, corrects himself by restating the sentence using the word &ldquo;her,&rdquo; and laughingly calms down the crowd, which seemed delighted by the remark.</p> <p> Yet it is frustrating to say the least that this incident is glossed over, while any stupid remark made by someone on the Right is not only widely repeated on every major media outlet, but is used not just to tarnish the candidate that made the gaffe, but anyone remotely associated with the Republican party of conservative movement.</p> <p> It would be silly to say that Mr. Shaheen&#39;s remark reflects how all Democrats&#39; view Republican women. Yet if the party labels had been reversed, few on the left or the so-called mainstream media would hesitate to use this clip to paint the enitre GOP as a bunch of sexist ogres.</p> <p> Sadly, name-calling happens on both sides of the aisle. It&#39;s profoundly unfair that it is only considered newsworthy when it&#39;s a Republican who stoops to such tactics. &nbsp;The media ought not&mdash;though we all know they will&mdash;ignore these instances of liberals slurring women.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"> <iframe frameborder="no" height="332" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" noresize="noresize" scrolling="no" src="http://launch.newsinc.com/?type=VideoPlayer/Single&amp;widgetId=1&amp;trackingGroup=69016&amp;siteSection=breitbart&amp;videoId=27940142" width="590"></iframe></p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795414/Carrie L. LukasMon, 27 Oct 2014 11:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPlaying the Sexism Card Where It Doesn’t Belong<p> With so much attention on Ebola and the need for more treatments and cures, we are getting into aspects of health care policy that are rarely in the public sphere.&nbsp;</p> <p> Most political debates center on health care payment and delivery issues: How can we make sure that people have access to the care they need at an affordable price?&nbsp; Those are the discussions that interest me most, mostly because I know the direction that I think is best:&nbsp; A market-based system that encourages providers to compete for customers will deliver the best value, and government aid should focus on helping people access that system by providing financial support for those who need it due to poverty or circumstances that make them expensive to insure or treat.</p> <p> But there are a lot of other policy issues involved in the health care arena, many of which are far less black-and-white.&nbsp;</p> <p> Patent policy, for example, can be tricky:&nbsp; Those who develop treatments and cures need to have patent protection so that they can recoup the tremendous investments that must be made in order to develop and test such innovations.&nbsp; More than that, we want there to be a big financial incentive for companies and entrepreneurs to dedicate the resources needed for medical advancement. I&rsquo;m sure that those working on an Ebola cure and vaccine now are very motivated by the desire to end the humanitarian crisis in Africa and the pandemic threat &ndash; but I also want them to be financially rewarded if they succeed.&nbsp; Some people are uncomfortable with the profit motive, but it is surely the best way to encourage advancement and innovation across the board.</p> <p> Yet patent protections also ought not last forever &ndash; at some point, companies should be able to build on others&rsquo; research and produce similar drugs and treatments, which is critical to bringing down prices and making new medical advancements widely available to the public.&nbsp; How long, exactly, then should those patents last?&nbsp; That&rsquo;s a matter of legitimate debate:&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a balancing act of competing interests, and not entirely a matter of principle.&nbsp;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s strange to see groups that jump in with such force and attempt to demonize those who disagree with them on these grey issues.</p> <p> Take this <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/health-advocates-submit-letter-to-fda-regarding-biosimilars-policy-and-womens-health-260273501.html">bizarre press release</a> from the Society for Women&#39;s Health Research.&nbsp;</p> <p> The issue at stake is the use of &ldquo;biosimilars&rdquo; &ndash; which is the name for the generic versions of a certain kind of drugs which are made from living cells taken from patients and transformed to fight some of our worst and most stubborn diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer&rsquo;s.&nbsp; The Affordable Care Act was supposed to facilitate the entrance of these new drugs into the US market.&nbsp; This is a version of the patent question discussed above:&nbsp; The drug makers who developed these elaborate new drugs understandably don&rsquo;t want generics to enter the market and bring down their price, but without that competition, these drugs will remain staggeringly expensive, and therefore not reach all the people who need them.</p> <p> Again, there are legitimate arguments on both sides, including the need to ensure the safety of biosimilars, as well as to make sure that patent protections remain adequate so that companies will continue to invest in new research.</p> <p> But the Society for Women&rsquo;s Health Research wants to turn this into a gender thing as they weigh in on trying to slow down the FDA&rsquo;s approval of a pathway for the use of biosimilars.&nbsp; The press release laments how women are under-represented in clinical trials even though women often have different manifestations of illnesses and react differently to treatments.&nbsp;</p> <p> I&rsquo;m not sure of the data on women&rsquo;s representation in clinical trials, but that&rsquo;s certainly a fine point to make and to encourage the FDA to make sure that women are properly represented and studied when approving new drugs and treatments.</p> <p> Yet it seems to have essentially nothing to do with the issue at hand, and whether or not the FDA ought to make it more difficult for biosimilars to be put into use by creating a complex new, separate naming system for those products. I live in Germany, and biosimilars have been on the market here in Europe since 2006 using the same scientific names as the biologic components they mimic. At this point, 8 years of data on the naming issue exists, and the EU has had no safety or efficacy problems.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s strange that these women&rsquo;s groups would adopt such a stance, especially since it seems to be counter to the interest of the people they say they represent.&nbsp; In delaying a path forward on bringing biosimilars to market, they&rsquo;re preventing women from having access to more affordable drugs, which are currently extremely expensive and highly specialized.</p> <p> The Society for Women&rsquo;s Health Research seems to think that throwing up a charge of sexism will help tilt the debate, even if there is nothing substantive, sexist, or even really pertinent in the charge.&nbsp; Let&rsquo;s hope the FDA ignores the interference of charges like this, and instead focuses on making the important, difficult determinations of how to make new treatments and cures more accessible, without discouraging the creation of the next round of much needed innovation. &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795378/Carrie L. LukasWed, 22 Oct 2014 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFast Food Automation Is Already a Reality in Parts of the World<p> The <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/minimum-wage-backfire-1413934569">Wall Street Journal</a> warns today that McDonald&rsquo;s--faced with lower profits and the specter of an increased minimum wage which would dramatically increase employment costs--may increasingly turn to automation.&nbsp; Using touch screen ordering systems can allow franchises to reduce their labor force without increasing lines or reducing customer satisfaction.</p> <p> I don&rsquo;t know the breakdown of McDonald&rsquo;s company data, but from my experience living for many years now in Europe, it seems that McDonald&rsquo;s has already taken this path here.&nbsp; One can order from the counter, but there is almost always a touch-screen option available.&nbsp; It works really well:&nbsp; You can linger a little more as you choose what you want and without having to face any potential language issues.&nbsp; You can pay with a credit or debit card and only have to interact with an employee for a few moments, when they give you your food.</p> <p> Perhaps this innovation would be coming regardless of whether or not the minimum wage was going up.&nbsp; Businesses likely find that consumers have different preferences for how to order:&nbsp; Some may prefer to talk face-to-face with an employee, while others may prefer a screen.&nbsp; Yet surely the push to increase wages will contribute to this process.&nbsp; As employees get more expensive, it will make sense for businesses, whenever possible, to have fewer, more highly skilled employees. &nbsp;</p> <p> How, exactly, this will help the teenagers and other low-skilled workers looking for their first job, which will give them much needed employment experience in addition to a paycheck, I can&rsquo;t say.&nbsp; It seems that those truly interested in improving the economic opportunity for these populations ought to focus on lowering&mdash;not raising&mdash;the cost of employment. &nbsp;A higher minimum wage mandate may sound compassionate, but only if you ignore how such <a href="http://iwvoice.org/pdf/MinimumWage_DiscussionGuides.pdf">mandates will work in the real world</a>. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795380/Carrie L. LukasWed, 22 Oct 2014 07:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWireless Usage Is No Sin<p> Gasoline, tobacco, alcohol&hellip; These are the types of products that we tend to assume are singled out by the government for special taxes.&nbsp; This isn&rsquo;t just a way for government to raise revenue (though it is certainly that), these products are singled out for special taxes because government believes that smoking and drinking alcohol are bad for people&rsquo;s health, and that gasoline usage harms the environment.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s why these are often referred to as &ldquo;sin&rdquo; taxes:&nbsp; And government taxes them to try to encourage people to &quot;sin&quot; less.&nbsp;</p> <p> There&rsquo;s reason to be suspicious of &ldquo;sin&rdquo; taxes:&nbsp; They don&rsquo;t always work to discourage the behavior they&rsquo;re intended to and can encourage people to substitute toward equally unappealing options (or encourage participation in a black market).&nbsp; They weigh most heavily on those who can least afford them (eating up a larger share of lower-income household&rsquo;s budgets) and fail to differentiate between truly harmful behaviors (nightly swilling of large quantities of vodka) and totally innocuous, even healthful, behavior (having a glass or two of wine with dinner).&nbsp;</p> <p> At least, though, there is <em>some </em>rationale behind them. &nbsp;</p> <p> Why, then, are wireless services also singled out for huge taxes and government fees?&nbsp;</p> <p> As the <a href="http://taxfoundation.org/article/wireless-taxation-united-states-2014">Tax Foundation reports</a>, Americans pay an average of 17.05 percent in combined federal, state, and local tax and fees on wireless service. That&rsquo;s more than twice the average sales tax rates for other goods.</p> <p> Surely using wireless services is no sin.&nbsp; In fact, as <a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2793441/Let's-Simplify-Taxes,-and-Not-Tax-Technological-Development">I&rsquo;ve written before</a>, while politicians may have once placed wireless technology in the &ldquo;luxury&rdquo; category, and therefore ripe for an extra tax, wireless users now use these services for critical aspects of their everyday lives:</p> <blockquote> <p> Wireless technologies are not just about accessing entertainment, but are often critical work and learning tools, as well as communications devises.&nbsp; In an <a href="http://www.mywireless.org/media-center/data-center/2013-national-tax-survey/">industry survey</a>, most wireless consumers reported seeing access to wireless technologies not only as critical to their everyday life (more than 80 percent consider it an essential service), but as important for increasingly their productivity at work (44 percent) and in school (17 percent).</p> </blockquote> <p> Women typically may not fit the tech-junkie stereotype, but as I explained in <a href="http://lean-together.com/detail.php?c=2794873&amp;t=Chapter%20Nine%20-%20Carrie%20Lukas">a chapter in <em>Lean Together</em></a>, women are actually among the biggest winners from the spread of technology, since it has created new paradigms for blending work, home, and education.</p> <p> Americans should take note of the big chunk taken by government when they next go to pay their wireless bill.&nbsp; There is no reason politicians should be using wireless to squeeze more money out of people.&nbsp; The federal and state governments ought to eliminate this onerous, unnecessary tax. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795270/Carrie L. LukasSat, 11 Oct 2014 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCaution Needed When Interpreting Polls for Public’s Policy Preferences <p> Polls and public opinion research can be interesting, but it&rsquo;s important to also understand the limits to what survey questions tells us.&nbsp;</p> <p> <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/09/public_religion_research_institute_study_paid_sick_and_maternity_leave_popular.html">Slate&rsquo;s Boer Deng </a>&nbsp;would have readers believe that data from a new survey proves support for a government paid leave mandate is overwhelming, making it a slam-dunk for any politician willing to champion it:</p> <blockquote> <p> &hellip;there is one issue where an overwhelming consensus between both parties can be found. A staggering 81 percent of Americans are in favor of requiring companies to offer paid sick leave, and 78 percent favor offering leave for the arrival of a child. &nbsp;For sick leave, especially, support is universal, with 90 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents, and 76 percent of Republicans in favor. Men and women both think we ought to require that employers offer paid leave for parents.</p> </blockquote> <p> Yet proponents of these mandates ought to be a little more cautious.&nbsp; Surveys often get very contradictory results because of the way questions are phrased, especially when the questions feature only the benefits, while avoiding mentioning the tradeoffs and downsides, of policy proposals.</p> <p> Surveys tend to find much more support for increased education spending when the survey question is phrased &ldquo;Do you believe that government should invest more in our children&rsquo;s education?&rdquo; than when the question is instead &ldquo;Do you support tax increases to fund more education spending?&rdquo; or even when just a little more context is given to the issue, such as &ldquo;Per pupil spending for public school exceeds $10,000.&nbsp; Do you think spending should be increased more?&rdquo;</p> <p> Yes, four out of five people responded affirmatively when asked if companies ought to be required to offer paid sick and maternity leave.&nbsp; But if respondents were given more context (such as that most companies already offer full-time employees paid time off) or were encouraged to consider the tradeoffs&mdash;such as that more generous benefits tend to lead to lower take-home pay&mdash;support would likely drop.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> A real discussion about a paid leave policy would give the public a better understanding of how mandates affect business decisions and therefore would ultimately impact workers.&nbsp; People should know that most companies offer leave benefits because it helps them attract and retain valued workers.&nbsp; But those companies that don&rsquo;t offer such benefits usually have a reason why they aren&rsquo;t including those benefits in those compensation packages.&nbsp; If one forces all companies to offer paid leave benefits, companies will take that into account as they make their staffing plans:&nbsp; They may seek to employ fewer, more highly-skilled workers to minimize workplace disruptions; they may lower take-home pay to compensate for the higher costs associated with the need for more temp workers; if the mandates apply only to full-time workers (as was posed in this survey questions) they may follow the ObamaCare path and cut workers&rsquo; hours so that more qualify as part-time.</p> <p> People want workers to be treated fairly. &nbsp;&nbsp;They sympathize with the need for people to take leave time.&nbsp; &nbsp;And in general, people like proposals that claim to help people and give them some new: <em>Do you think Joe Smith deserves a raise? Sure I do! Why not? &nbsp;</em></p> <p> But policy matters are more complicated than that.&nbsp; The American people should have a heightened awareness of that, because of their recent experience with government&rsquo;s over-promises and half-truths. &nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2792908/Why-Obama's-Promise-That-Americans-Could-Keep-Their-Insurance-Was-So-Important">ObamaCare</a> was sold as a magical solution to our health care system&rsquo;s problems:&nbsp; We can give all the uninsured comprehensive insurance without any extra costs!&nbsp; And of course you&rsquo;ll be able to keep the plan you like!&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> That was always absurd:&nbsp; Policies come with tradeoffs.&nbsp; As we&rsquo;ve seen with <a href="http://lean-together.com/detail.php?c=2794866&amp;t=Chapter%20Three%20%E2%80%93%20Hadley%20Heath%20Manning">ObamaCare</a>, millions of Americans lost their previous coverage, are paying more for more narrow coverage, have insurance but can&rsquo;t get medical appointments, and even with all this and with trillions of dollars of new spending scheduled, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that even after full ObamaCare implementation 30 million Americans will still lack insurance.</p> <p> Recognizing the costs of proposed paid leave benefits doesn&rsquo;t mean that we have to opt to do nothing to help those who face true hardship from a lack of employer-provided leave.&nbsp; But we should carefully consider how such interventions will impact other factors, like their economic opportunities.&nbsp; It doesn&rsquo;t do the working poor any good to offer generous new benefits if that means that many will find themselves out of work or with pay cuts.</p> <p> As I&rsquo;ve <a href="http://ygnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Chapter-11-The-Agenda-Work-Life-Balance.pdf">written before</a>, rather than one-size-fits-all employer mandates or government leave programs that change the employment contracts of all working Americans, policymakers should consider focusing their efforts on helping those who really need it, such as through a targeted financial support program modeled on the Earned Income Tax Credit that can help people taking leave.&nbsp;</p> <p> Identifying better policy solutions won&rsquo;t come from relying on misleading polling information, but from a real discussion and debate of the tradeoffs that necessarily come with reform. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795201/Carrie L. LukasFri, 3 Oct 2014 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Sloppiest Fact Check Ever?<p> While doing some research this morning, I stumbled upon this &ldquo;<a href="http://www.dol.gov/minwage/mythbuster.htm">Minimum Wage Mythbusters</a>&rdquo; page on the Department of Labor, which deserves consideration for the worst-ever fact sheet by any institution that claims to be non-partisan or fact-based.</p> <p> Among the jarring features of this list of &ldquo;busted myths&rdquo; is the total absence of any sourcing or links to actual data.&nbsp; Here is just one exampl on a page full of them.&nbsp; The webpage confidently states:</p> <blockquote> <p> <strong>Myth:</strong>&nbsp;Increasing the minimum wage will cause people to lose their jobs.</p> <p> <strong>Not true:</strong>&nbsp;A review of 64 studies on minimum wage increases found no discernable effect on employment. Additionally, more than 600 economists, seven of them Nobel Prize winners in economics, have signed onto a letter in support of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016.</p> </blockquote> <p> So what&rsquo;s the name of the study? Who wrote it? When? Where&rsquo;s the link?</p> <p> It&rsquo;s hardly impressive that the federal government&mdash;loaded to the gills with people on the payroll with economics degrees who can therefore claim to be &ldquo;economists&rdquo;&mdash;was able to scrape up 600 economists to sign something in support of their preferred policy.&nbsp; But please, let&rsquo;s see their names! Where&rsquo;s the link to the list?</p> <p> By the way, in case you are wondering, naturally this illuminating webpage ignores the recent <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44995-MinimumWage.pdf">Congressional Budget Office</a>&rsquo;s analysis of the Obama Administration&rsquo;s proposed wage hike.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s because the <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44995-MinimumWage.pdf">CBO</a> didn&rsquo;t jive with the DOL&rsquo;s line that there would be no impact on employment.&nbsp; In fact, CBO found that the likely effect of the hike to $10.10 would be 500,000 fewer jobs.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s a half million Americans more out of work.</p> <p> If you are going to argue that the law of supply and demand somehow doesn&rsquo;t apply to the minimum wage, that somehow raising the price of labor won&rsquo;t mean that businesses can afford less of it (as we would recognize is the obvious effect if we were talking about a higher price for any other good or service), then you should really find at least one source to point to.&nbsp; And in case you want more evidence than CBO of the opposite&mdash;that when workers cost more businesses can afford to hire fewer of them&mdash;here&rsquo;s a link to a metastudy on the impact of minimum wage increases that found overwhelming evidence that higher minimum wages do lead to fewer jobs, particularly for low-skilled and low-wage workers: <a href="http://ftp.iza.org/dp2570.pdf">Minimum Wages and Employment</a><u>, by David Neumark and William Wascher</u>.&nbsp;</p> <p> The hacks at the Department of Labor&nbsp;who put this &quot;mythbusters&quot; website together should be ashamed of their complete sloppiness and failure to even pretend that they are offering a balanced factual look at the data related to the minimum wage.&nbsp; This is politics pure and simple, and it&rsquo;s grotesque that taxpayer dollars were used to create this propaganda. &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795148/Carrie L. LukasMon, 29 Sep 2014 04:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Pretend that a Career in Porn Is as Good a Career Choice as Any Other?<p> I&rsquo;m confused by some libertarians&rsquo; attempts to argue that working in the sex trade is no different than working in entertainment generally or in any other occupation.&nbsp;</p> <p> When the story of Miriam Weeks&mdash;the Duke University student who also appears in porn films&mdash;broke, some seemed eager to promote a young women who described working in the porn industry in glowing terms, as a road to empowerment. Now, a new <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-l6HSYnHA4w">documentary series</a> on Ms. Weeks (unsurprisingly) paints a more complicated picture of her experience as a porn star.&nbsp; This clearly disappoints those who want to make a political point with her tale.&nbsp;</p> <p> For example, <a href="http://reason.com/blog/2014/09/24/belle-knox-docu-series-sex-work-is-labor">Reason&rsquo;s Elizabeth Nolan Brown</a> writes:</p> <blockquote> <p> Watching the series progress, it&#39;s clear Weeks herself is struggling&mdash;as anyone who plays a public role must&mdash;with how much to give and how much to withold. &quot;If you start becoming Belle,&quot; a colleague told her, &quot;you need to leave the industry.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p> By the final segment, Weeks has been traveling a lot and is homesick, feeling alienated from family and old friends and frustrated with some of the working conditions in the porn industry. She&#39;s tired. Her early, unadulterated enthusiasm for getting paid to have sex has worn off (&quot;the experience has aged me,&quot; she says). Some will undoubtedly use this as evidence of the unconscionably negative toll porn takes on women.&nbsp;</p> <p> But I thought of that inevitable scene in tour documentaries where the lead singer is sleeping fitfully on a bus seat or talking forlornly with someone back home.&nbsp;<em>Life as a musician on tour&mdash;it&#39;s not all peachy! Life as a rising porn starlet&mdash;sometimes it sucks!</em>&nbsp;&quot;Porn is like any other job, it&#39;s labor, and I think that liking it is irrelevant,&quot; Weeks says in segment five.</p> </blockquote> <p> Brown doesn&rsquo;t mention other aspects of Miriam Week&rsquo;s personal story revealed in the documentary, but we also learn that she is survivor of rape and a former cutter who left a scar that reads &ldquo;FAT&rdquo; carved into her thigh.&nbsp; One doesn&rsquo;t have to be an anti-porn absolutist to be concerned that perhaps the 18-year-old didn&rsquo;t know what she was getting into when she entered the porn industry and was emotionally vulnerable when she made that decision. &nbsp;From the beginning, Weeks always has seemed a bit conflicted about why, exactly, she decided to appear in porn:&nbsp; Was it her only option to cover too high tuition bills or a dream come true of feminist empowerment?</p> <p> Admitting that the sex trade isn&rsquo;t the happiest, best work environment for women doesn&rsquo;t mean that one then has to believe the solution is to outlaw pornography.&nbsp; One can believe that the porn industry is generally bad for women, that the proliferation of porn is damaging to society, and still also recognize that a government prohibition would lead to far worse outcomes, pushing the practice completely underground and leaving young women like Weeks with fewer protections.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> If the decriminalization of prostitution and the like is the libertarians&rsquo; goal, then it would seem far more effective to use the best lessons from the drug legalization movement.&nbsp;</p> <p> Rather than trying to convince the public that drugs are harmless, and that we should be indifferent to whether someone chooses to eat crackers and use cocaine, the best drug legalization efforts focus on the unintended consequences of the drug war.&nbsp; Making drugs illegal hasn&rsquo;t discouraged drug use in America, but has made it a (very profitable) criminal industry and encouraged the creation of our gang infrastructure.&nbsp; De-criminalizing drugs would make the drug trade less profitable and could lead to a major reduction in crime. There is much evidence to draw from in Europe, where drugs are essentially de-criminalized and crime rates are far lower.&nbsp; When presented with these facts one can easily be convinced that while drugs may be bad, the drug war is worse.</p> <p> A similar argument about the sex trade would be far more effective:&nbsp; Let&rsquo;s focus on rates of sexual trafficking in places where prostitution is criminalized versus those where it is legal; let&rsquo;s consider how easily a young woman (or man) can leave the sex industry and rates of slavery, violence and disease.&nbsp; Let&rsquo;s further promote the core libertarian concept that America is supposed to be a country of free people, and free people must be allowed to make bad decisions, whether that&rsquo;s using addictive drugs or appearing in degrading porn.</p> <p> Trying to convince people that porn is incredibly empowering to women&mdash;and that we should be just as pleased if our daughters and sisters pursue a job in the sex trade as we are if they choose to pursue medicine or journalism&mdash;simply isn&rsquo;t going to work. &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795142/Carrie L. LukasFri, 26 Sep 2014 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolicy Focus: The Gainful Employment Rule<p> America needs a higher education system that provides a wide variety of learning opportunities for women and men of all ages and from all backgrounds, and that efficiently delivers real value to students, preparing them to participate in the modern economy.</p> <p> Many are concerned that our higher education system is failing on that last measure: Higher education costs have been rapidly increasing for decades, and today many students accrue large loan debts without gaining the skills necessary to secure jobs that pay enough to make ends meet.</p> <p> The Administration has proposed a &ldquo;gainful employment rule,&rdquo; which they claim would address this problem, by rendering educational programs that fail to meet specific criteria for post-employment outcomes and student debt loads ineligible for student loans. However, this rule unfairly targets only a subset of schools that serve non-traditional, lower-income student populations. It would result in fewer educational opportunities for this group, and do little to encourage greater efficiency in the higher education arena across the board.</p> <p> There are better ways to improve the higher education system, such as requiring greater transparency, encouraging the development of a wider variety of lower-cost education and degree-granting options, and reforming the student loan system.</p> <p> In the meantime, the gainful employment rule should be rejected once again as an unfair mechanism that would destroy educational opportunities for those who need it most.</p> <p> <a href="http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/4073fc25-96a9-4d2c-b861-bb142283255c/PolicyFocus14_Oct_p1.pdf"><em>Click here to continue reading the 6-page policy focus in PDF.&nbsp;</em></a></p> http://iwf.org/publications/2795136/Carrie L. LukasThu, 25 Sep 2014 13:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWho Is Going to Make Your Next Favorite Show?<p> My kids have completely different expectations for how the television works than I did when I was a child.&nbsp;</p> <p> I recall racing down the stairs just before 5pm so I could park myself in front of our small television in time for the Brady Bunch song to begin.&nbsp; There were no second chances, no way to pause while someone used the bathroom or grabbed a snack, and no ability to watch another episode if one didn&rsquo;t seem like enough.&nbsp;</p> <p> Today, my kids know their favorite shows and movies are available anytime they are given the greenlight to turn on the television or any of the many other devices they know can be used for such entertainment.&nbsp;</p> <p> But one doesn&rsquo;t have to go all the way back to the 70s to see how much entertainment has evolved.&nbsp; The sitcoms of the 90s seem equally antiquated with their laugh-tracks and storylines that last precisely twenty-two minutes, knowing that the audience need closure and only a small part of plot can withstand a week-long wait. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Today, it&rsquo;s entirely different.&nbsp; Our nightly entertainment can have the depth and quality that used to be reserved only for the biggest Hollywood production.&nbsp; One can watch back-to-back episodes of intricately-produced programming that, while still segmented for us into show-sized chunks, are truly epic, high-quality stories that often last for dozens of hours.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s easy to take our access to this kind of quality entertainment for granted, but it&rsquo;s really an amazing tribute to technological development and innovation.</p> <p> Ironically, technology can also impede the investment in high quality entertainment.&nbsp; Technologies that make it possible for such programming to exist and be so readily accessible at any time or place of our choosing also make it easy for consumers to avoid paying anything for access to this entertainment by accessing it illegally.&nbsp;</p> <p> As the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/orange-is-the-new-black-is-now-the-second-most-pirated-tv-show-in-the-world/2014/08/24/4b9a4bf2-2977-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html">Washington Post</a> recently reported, new-media innovator Netflix has been hard hit by online-piracy: &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p> But the fact that Netflix shows are also being voraciously downloaded illegally renews industry worries that there are no clear solutions to piracy.</p> <blockquote> <p> Entertainment industry executives had hoped Internet-based services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime would persuade those watching pirated videos online to begin paying or subscribing legally &mdash; much the way music lovers embraced iTunes, even if they had grown up illegally downloading files on Napster. But even Netflix, which at $8 to $9 per month for a streaming-only plan costs a fraction of a typical cable bill, may not be able to curb online theft&hellip;.</p> <p> Analysts say hundreds of millions of dollars are being stolen with these unauthorized downloads of video, music and book files through pirate sites such as the Pirate Bay.</p> <p> In fact, as <a href="https://media.gractions.com/314A5A5A9ABBBBC5E3BD824CF47C46EF4B9D3A76/7843c97d-fd81-4597-a5d9-b1f5866b0833.pdf">this report details</a>, facilitating the illegal downloading of programming itself has become a multi-million dollar business.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p> Americans may be tempted to shrug off this phenomenon:&nbsp; It is only entertainment after all, and famous actors and entertainment executives hardly make for the most sympathetic characters in this economic drama.</p> <p> But draining millions of dollars from a legitimate industry does have serious economic impacts, and reduces the number of jobs that are created in the media industry not just for big-name actors and executives, but for many average Joes.&nbsp;</p> <p> Moreover, at its core, this phenomenon of intellectual property theft is a close-cousin to the problems that plague many industries and impact everything from the development of drugs and medical treatments to new communication technologies. &nbsp;&nbsp;As <a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2791435/It's-Time-for-the-U.S.-to-Deal-with-Cyber-Espionage">I&rsquo;ve written before</a>, there may not be an easy way to prevent intellectual property theft, but an important first step is recognizing that it&rsquo;s a real problem with serious economic consequences.&nbsp;</p> <p> We want innovation to continue to give us more and better options for entertainment as well as in other areas of life.&nbsp; That requires a system that gives investors the confidence that their property is just that&mdash;their property&mdash;and that their products and programming will be free to compete and be recognized and rewarded through a safe, competitive market.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795130/Carrie L. LukasThu, 25 Sep 2014 04:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum