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.org33968Parents Want Help, Not Day Care<p> During the State of the Union, President Obama made a strong case for increasing the tax credit for spending on day care: Having both parents work is an economic necessity for many middle-class and low-income families today, so we need more affordable, high-quality child-care options. And, indeed, everyone wants to help working families. Conservatives concerned about declining workforce participation and a growing dependency culture may find the president&rsquo;s work-facilitating proposal particularly appealing.</p> <p> But parents may react differently. As nice as affordable, high-quality child care sounds in the abstract, that&rsquo;s not what most parents want for their own children. When the research firm&nbsp;<a href="http://www.publicagendaarchives.org/files/pdf/necessary_compromises.pdf">Public Agenda</a>&nbsp;asked parents of children under age five about the best child-care arrangement, 70 percent thought it was best for one parent to be at home. Just 6 percent thought a quality day-care center was optimal. More than seven in ten parents agreed with the statement &ldquo;Parents should only rely on a day-care center when they have no other option.&rdquo;</p> <p> Parents&rsquo; actual behaviors confirm these stated preferences. According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p70-135.pdf">Census Bureau</a>, in 2011, less than one quarter of children under age five were in an organized day-care facility, and just 13 percent were at day-care centers. About 60 percent of children under five spent some time in an alternative child-care arrangement, but most of that care was provided by a relative.</p> <p> Of course, the lack of affordable, high-quality day-care centers may contribute to these outcomes and expressed preferences: Parents may welcome good day-care centers and express reluctance in surveys only because the day-care centers in their neighborhoods are too expensive, overcrowded, not high-quality, or all of the above.</p> <p> Yet expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, as the president proposes, is unlikely to solve that problem. An expanded, non-refundable tax credit won&rsquo;t help those without a positive income-tax liability, and it may encourage child-care centers to raise prices to eat up the subsidy (a phenomenon that has helped drive&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/subsidized-loans-drive-college-tuition-student-debt-to-record-levels/article/2532964">college tuition</a>&nbsp;through the roof). This could leave parents who qualify for the tax credit no better off and those who don&rsquo;t qualify with bigger bills.</p> <p> The best way to make child care more affordable and plentiful is to make the market more competitive and easier to enter for would-be child-care providers. Today, many government policies make running a child-care business more difficult and expensive than it needs to be. In addition to the normal costs of operating the business and obtaining adequate liability insurance, child-care centers must comply with often-stringent state regulations. States create rules for the maximum children-per-caregiver ratio, how much space must be available per child, and what day-care center facilities must include.</p> <p> These regulations significantly impact costs for parents. As Jordan Weissman&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/why-is-childcare-getting-so-expensive/281394/">wrote</a>&nbsp;in&nbsp;<em>The Atlantic</em>, &ldquo;in Massachusetts, where child care centers must hire one teacher for every three infants, the price of care averaged more than $16,000 per year. In Mississippi, where centers must hire one teacher for every five infants, the price of care averaged less than $5,000.&rdquo; Reducing unnecessarily burdensome regulations would allow more entrepreneurs to enter the child-care arena and ultimately lead to more affordable options and a greater diversity in the kind of care arrangements that are available.</p> <p> Moreover, while bringing costs down is a worthy goal, costs aren&rsquo;t the only reason most parents prefer alternatives to institutional day-care centers. Parents want their children cared for by someone &mdash; ideally, a relative &ndash;&nbsp;who loves them and is focused on their long-term best interests. Second-best to a loving relative is likely to be a friend or a known, local care provider who will form a lasting bond with the child. Big, formal day-care centers, even the good ones, seem less likely to offer this kind of consistent, loving care.</p> <p> Rather than push parents toward their least-preferred child-care arrangement, policymakers ought to focus on providing tax relief to parents across the board. Although this runs counter to the important goal of simplifying the tax code, policymakers could explore targeting additional tax relief to parents of younger children (such as five and under), since they require the most hands-on care, which can preclude a parent from engaging in paid work.</p> <p> Putting more resources in parents&rsquo; pockets would make it easier for them to follow their preferences, whether that&rsquo;s paying a formal day-care provider or keeping a parent at home. Families that are making significant financial sacrifices to keep a parent at home because they believe that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s best for their children can rightfully feel frustrated that policymakers seem to consistently overlook the value that they provide to their families and communities. Policymakers should take note that many working mothers wish they could&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/03/14/modern-parenthood-roles-of-moms-and-dads-converge-as-they-balance-work-and-family/2/">work less</a>&nbsp;and spend more time caring for their children themselves. Making it easier for them to achieve that goal should be just as important as helping them pay someone else to care for their children.</p> <p> <em>&mdash; Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.&nbsp;</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2796090/Carrie L. LukasFri, 23 Jan 2015 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMurder with a Message<p> I agree with <a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2795964/Je-suis-Charlie!">Charlotte</a> that the Western World must do more than just echo the slogan &quot;Je suis Charlie.&rdquo; I appreciate the show of solidarity, but that can&#39;t be the end of it. And we have to be clear about what this terrorist attack meant and what our response means.</p> <p> One would think that the meaning of this attack would be obvious, but there are some prominent writers who want to obscure what&#39;s going on in the name of a thinly-disguised, tired bow to political correctness. Take <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/1/7/7509265/charlie-hebdo-cartoons">Ezra Klein at Vox</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> Yes, Charlie Hebdo was a magazine that delighted in controversy and provocation. Yes, it skewered religion and took joy in giving offense. Yes, the magazine knowingly antagonized extremists &mdash; Charlie Hebdo&#39;s web site had been hacked and its offices firebombed before today; French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had asked of its cartoons, &quot;Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?&quot; And yes, Charlie Hebdo&#39;s editor said in 2012, prophetically, that &quot;I prefer to die than live like a rat.&quot;</p> <p> But this isn&#39;t about Charlie Hebdo&#39;s cartoons, any more than a rape is about what the victim is wearing, or a murder is about where the victim was walking.</p> <p> What happened today, according to current reports, is that two men went on a killing spree. Their killing spree, like most killing sprees, will have some thin rationale. Even the worst villains believe themselves to be heroes. But in truth, it was unprovoked slaughter. The fault lies with no one but them and their accomplices. Their crime isn&#39;t explained by cartoons or religion.</p> </blockquote> <p> Klein is dead wrong: The correct comparison isn&#39;t with &ldquo;rape being about what the victim is wearing.&rdquo; The real comparison is with <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/02/world/meast/cnnheroes-jan-afghan-school/">terrorists who attack girls going to school in Afghanistan</a>. It&#39;s different than the average attack on an innocent victim, because it is meant to also send a message to others: <em>We don&#39;t believe girls deserve an education and we will make you pay if you try to go to school.</em></p> <p> That&#39;s a difference that we need to linger on as we consider the lasting impact of the events in Paris.</p> <p> When people hear about violence, they naturally consider what actions they can take to prevent themselves and their loved ones from being the next victims. Typically that means we avoid, when we can, neighborhoods with high crime; we lock our doors and take other precautions. When a madman opens fire in a street or building, we are horrified and frightened and wonder what went wrong, but we also know that there is only so much we can do to avoid future random acts of such violence. &nbsp;We can&#39;t, or aren&#39;t willing to, entirely close ourselves off: &nbsp;We keep going to school, to the mall, to the movies, and hope and assume that lightning won&#39;t strike there.</p> <p> That&#39;s not they case when the attack has such a clear message as &ldquo;girl shouldn&#39;t go to school&rdquo; or &ldquo;don&#39;t insult the Prophet.&rdquo; We know what we are being told to do to avoid a repeat; Afghan families are being told keep your daughters locked inside; writers and cartoonists, Mohammad and Islam are out-of-bounds.</p> <p> Surely the Western world&mdash;especialy good liberals like Ezra Klein!--recognize how extremely problematic the first case is: &nbsp;We would never allow our society to internalize the message that girls don&#39;t belong in school.</p> <p> But what about a prohibition against making fun of Islam? &nbsp;That&#39;s not so hard--most of us wouldn&#39;t anyway--but isn&#39;t this the beginning of something incredibly dangerous and damaging? &nbsp;And given the realities we know about <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/7/french-islamist-mini-states-grow-into-problem-out-/">what&#39;s happening in Paris more broadly</a>, the real message of the attack seems even larger and more disturbing: &nbsp;Our way of life&mdash;our bedrock freedoms, such as the freedom of expression&mdash;are not safe. Obey their rules or else.</p> <p> We need to understand that this was the message if we hope to prevent this attack from succeeding in changing our society permanently.&nbsp;</p> <p> Fortunately, there are some brave people making this case--and walking the walk of standing up to such intimidation--like the IWF&#39;s recent Woman of Valour honoree, <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/ayaan-hirsi-ali-how-to-answer-the-paris-terror-attack-1420672114?mod=trending_now_3">Ayaan Hirsi Ali</a>. We need more people like that&mdash;and more to understand and respect their true bravery&mdash;rather than avoid acknowledging the real evil we face. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795975/Carrie L. LukasFri, 9 Jan 2015 09:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWho's Next Up for a Cyber Attack?<p> The cyberattack on Sony was a <a href="http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/5-most-embarrassing-revelations-sonys-sprawling-hack-161937">windfall for the gossip rags</a> and the pop-culture obsessed: The revealed name-calling (and worse) among the rich, famous, and powerful embarrassed many, as what was presumed to be private communications became public.</p> <p> Yet take away the intrigue of the episode and it&#39;s actually a serious event that should give all of us pause: Just how seriously are you taking cybersecurity? The emails and personal communications of normal folks like you and me are of little interest to the media, but there are plenty of internet thieves interested in gaining access to our financial information and even our identities (which remains a <a href="http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/identity-theft-victims-grow-at-double-digit-rate-050114.html">growing crime</a> problem).</p> <p> Part of the Sony scandal has been revelations of the company&#39;s efforts to thwart cybercrime, including intellectual property theft and the illegal downloading of movies and television shows. One doesn&#39;t have to agree with every tactic or agenda item to recognize that this is a vitally important issue for the company. Indeed it would be surprising&mdash;even negligent&mdash;if the entertainment industry <em>wasn&#39;t</em> focused on how to curb behaviors that drain billions from their businesses.</p> <p> Needless to say, the internet and all the innovations that have come from it have enriched our lives in countless ways. But that doesn&#39;t mean that it also doesn&#39;t create real dangers for individuals and our economy.</p> <p> In fact, the costs of cybercrime are huge: The estimated cost of intellectual property theft from U.S. companies is at least <a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2791435/It's-Time-for-the-U.S.-to-Deal-with-Cyber-Espionage">$250 billion annually</a>, which is a bigger hit that the federal corporate income tax. Individuals should explore more ways to protect themselves and their children from financial theft and other online abuses. And, as a nation, we need to invest more attention in finding ways to protect our interests, from guarding our national security information to protecting our intellectual property whether it&#39;s drug patents, creative entertainment, or communications technologies.</p> <p> The director of the <a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2791435/It's-Time-for-the-U.S.-to-Deal-with-Cyber-Espionage">National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander</a>, called cybercrime &quot;the greatest transfer of wealth in history.&quot; That&#39;s no joke, rather it should be a call to action. &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795952/Carrie L. LukasWed, 7 Jan 2015 05:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat's at Stake for Women in the Net Neutrality Debate<p> I&#39;ve <a href="http://lean-together.com/detail.php?c=2794873&amp;t=Chapter Nine - Carrie Lukas">written before</a> about how women benefit from new technologies. In fact, while women may be less likely than men to wait over night for the latest version of a new gadget, in many ways, women&#39;s lives are being more profoundly changed by new technologies, which have created new paradigms for integrating work and family life, as well as for accessing education, participating in politics, and keeping in touch with friends and family.</p> <p> But women may still be tempted to tune out the current debate over the somewhat confusing concept of &ldquo;Net Neutrality.&rdquo; It can be hard at first glance to see what any individual has at stake, but the truth is that women could be profoundly affected by the debate&#39;s outcome.</p> <p> The <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/republicans-lay-plans-to-fight-fccs-net-neutrality-rules-1420405643?mod=WSJ_TechWSJD_NeedToKnow">Wall Street Journal</a> provides a nice summary on the current state of the tug-of-war over regulating how the internet operates:</p> <blockquote> <p> The FCC spent most of 2014 drafting the new rules for how broadband Internet providers manage their networks, and it&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/fcc-will-vote-on-broadband-internet-rules-in-february-1420235637" target="_self">plans to vote on a final rule in February.</a>&nbsp;Shortly after the midterm elections, President Barack Obama&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/obama-calls-on-fcc-to-issue-rules-protecting-net-neutrality-1415633678?" target="_self">called on the FCC to impose&nbsp;</a>the strongest possible rules on providers by classifying broadband as a utility, which would make it subject to much greater regulation. The rules are designed to protect net neutrality&mdash;the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.</p> </blockquote> <p> At first, the idea of treating all internet traffic equally may sound like a good, egalitarian idea. But most consumers recognize that we really don&#39;t want all content treated equally. Just as we chose what books to read, websites to visit, and videos to watch, consumers may prefer to have a system that can prioritize content. As the <a href="http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/12/eight-myths-about-fcc-regulation-of-the-internet">Heritage Foundation</a> explains:</p> <blockquote> <p> The fact is that the Internet does not transmit generic, all-purpose bits of equal value that can all be treated the same way.</p> <p> It is not just a matter of separating out a few classes of content, such as video or voice telephony, that would be permitted special treatment. Even within these general categories, there are differences: What type of video is it? Is it urgent? Does it involve a medical issue or is it a cat video? Did the recipient request that particular content? How much does the end user value quick downloads? How important is that speed to the content originator?</p> <p> Accommodating the variations is not a simple matter. Regulators working to sort out the distinctions would be overwhelmed and constantly lag behind the rapid innovations that are commonplace on the Internet. These innovative approaches will face added uncertainty because entrepreneurs cannot predict how regulators would choose to treat various new services.</p> <p> A far better approach would be to allow content providers, ISPs, and consumers&mdash;working through markets&mdash;to sort out the varying preferences of users and various service providers. Regrettably, these market interactions are exactly what net neutrality rules would ban.</p> </blockquote> <p> In other words, if the internet becomes the legal equivalent of a public utility, the government would limit the ability of providers to customize our internet experience, and leave it in the hands of regulators to decide how data ought to be treated. That&#39;s a roadblock on the way to new innovation that could improve our lives more.</p> <p> The net neutrality debate could also impact our pocketbooks. As <a href="http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/01/05/treating-internet-like-a-public-utility-brings-a-new-tax-for-the-new-year/">ATR&#39;s Grover Norquist</a> writes:</p> <blockquote> <p> The Federal Communications Commission is in the middle of a high-stakes decision that could raise taxes for close to 90 percent of Americans. The commission is considering whether to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service and, in doing so, Washington would trigger new taxes and fees at the state and local level.</p> <p> The agency would like to make Internet service a public utility, placing broadband under Title II regulation of the Communications Act of 1934. This move would make broadband subject to New Deal-era regulation, and have significant consequences for U.S. taxpayers.</p> <p> Under this decision to reclassify broadband, Americans would face a host of new state and local taxes and fees that apply to public utilities. These new levies,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.progressivepolicy.org/slider/outdated-regulations-will-make-consumers-pay-broadband/">according to the Progressive Policy Institute</a>&nbsp;(PPI), would total $15 billion annually. On average, consumers would pay an additional $67 for landline broadband, and $72 for mobile broadband each year,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.progressivepolicy.org/slider/outdated-regulations-will-make-consumers-pay-broadband/">according to PPI&rsquo;s calculations</a>, with charges varying from state to state.</p> </blockquote> <p> Women should take note: Greater government control over the internet could have a big impact on all of us who have come to take these technologies for granted. &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795951/Carrie L. LukasWed, 7 Jan 2015 04:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLessons from Jackie and Rolling Stone<p> Much has already been written about the <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119">UVA Rolling Stone story</a>: For example, <a href="http://time.com/3620504/its-women-who-suffer-when-we-dont-ask-questions/">Cathy Young</a>, who spoke at an <a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2794157/Straight-Talk:-Honest-Conversation-About-%22Rape-Culture%22-and-Sexual-Violence">IWF event</a> on the issue of sexual violence on campus, questioned the allegations before Rolling Stone disowned the story as told.&nbsp; Since Rolling Stone issued its apology, there have been numerous others highlighting the problems created by allowing Jackie&rsquo;s story to be pushed and publicized without essentially any fact-checking:&nbsp; It wasn&rsquo;t fair to the men associated with the accused organization or to other women who are victims of assault who will now be less likely to be believed.</p> <p> There is some good news, though, from this episode.&nbsp;</p> <p> First, most obviously, it is good news that it seems increasingly likely that this gang rape and the horrifyingly cold response from friends and administrators did not occur as depicted in Rolling Stone.</p> <p> No one knows what happened, exactly, and it is entirely possible that Jackie did suffer some kind of abuse at some point.&nbsp; However, if you were among those who read the story and were sickened at the idea that colleges like UVA are full of utterly depraved demons, it&rsquo;s comforting to have the foundations of the story called into question.&nbsp; We can all be thankful, that it appears unlikely&mdash;as it always was&mdash;that a pack of seemingly normal young men laughingly tortured Jackie while a party continued around them, and that the friends of a survivor of gang rape told her to shrug it off for the good of the university&rsquo;s reputation.</p> <p> There is great concern that the falling apart of this story will lead to a distrust of other women who are victims of sexual assault.&nbsp; We cannot let that be the case.&nbsp; However, this is a good reminder that before accepting anyone&rsquo;s story, we should consider the facts carefully.&nbsp; The problem with most accusations of sexual violence is that it is usually a he-said, she-said situation.&nbsp; I firmly believe in the idea of innocent until proven guilty, but in the case of an attack that occurred behind closed doors without any witnesses, one must take the alleged victim&rsquo;s account very seriously.&nbsp;</p> <p> But the Jackie story was never just a he-said, she-said situation.&nbsp; There were a lot of people involved.&nbsp; She claimed nine men were involved with her attack, fellow party-goers who would have seen her leaving immediately after hours of assault, and friends who she talked to afterward.&nbsp; Surely this was a story that could have, and should have, been scrutinized thoroughly before being trumpeted for everyone&rsquo;s good.</p> <p> Certainly it is unfair for the Jackie episode to be an excuse for viewing anyone claiming to have been assaulted with suspicion.&nbsp; Yet we should also take care not to accept other appeals to group guilt, such as those commonly levied at groups of young men, whether they are lacrosse players or members of a fraternity. We should treat people and the stories they share individually, and grant them the respect and consideration that they all deserve. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795759/Carrie L. LukasMon, 8 Dec 2014 06:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumA Better Path to Helping Women Succeed<p> Germany will be introducing corporate boardroom quotas in hopes of increasing women&#39;s representation at the top and changing the culture to help more women succeed. But as I write in an<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/08/opinion/boardroom-quotas-wont-help-women.html?_r=0"> oped for the New York Times</a>, this is unlikely to actually improve women&#39;s prospects. Evidence from other corporate quotas (such as the quota in Norway) shows that it has little positive effect. And I argue that worse than a waste of time, the quota could hurt women: It sends the message that those women who do reach the top are there because corporations need to meet a quota, not because they deserve it. &nbsp;</p> <p> Due to space constraints, in that piece, I couldn&#39;t get into the topic of possible reasons why there are few female corporate leaders in Germany, and better ways to increase the likelihood that women will reach the top.</p> <p> Ironically, some of the other initiatives that the Germany government has taken in the name of helping women may actually be backfiring in terms of increasing female board representation. <a href="http://germany.angloinfo.com/family/toddlers/parental-leave/">Germany requires</a> companies to allow unpaid leave for up to three years after a birth of a child and to make accommodations for part-time work during that time period. The German government also offers <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324894104578109324274925496">parents myriad subsidies</a>, from government-supported daycare centers to cash payments for those choosing to keep children at home.</p> <p> These policies work in different directions when it comes to women&#39;s labor force participation &ndash; some policies make it easier for women to go back to work while others make work less necessary. However, taken together, the policies certainly send the message that parents of young children are unlikely to be normal, reliable, full-time workers. Employers have to assume that parents are likely to opt for part-time work, if not disappear entirely, for a couple of years. This gives businesses much reason to hesitate before giving someone likely to become a parents a position with serious responsibilities that cannot be easily transferred to a temp.</p> <p> Of course, I write &ldquo;parents of young children&rdquo; because both men and women are eligible to utilize leave time. But unsurprisingly, mothers are <a href="http://www.janvonbroeckel.de/english/parental_leave.html">far more likely</a> to use leave benefits, particularly extended leave benefits, than fathers are. We can debate why this is, and if society can and should try to change it, but for now, it is a simple reality and employers all know this. This means that when human resource managers consider a 30 year old man and a 30 year old woman for a management position, they know that there is a good chance that the woman will disappear for years at a time, while it is far less likely that the man will do so. How do you think this impacts hiring and promotion decisions? I&#39;m sure legally they are not supposed to take those potentials into consideration, but it is impossible for them not to be aware of these differences and certainly they are likely to weigh into their determinations.&nbsp;</p> <p> In the United States, there is no law that requires an employer to hold a job for a woman for years at a time. Most feminists see that as a bad thing, but it means that U.S. employers take far less of a risk when hiring a woman than a German business does. That is likely one reason why American women are far more likely to be represented at the tops of company than in other Western countries with generous family leave benefits. ( For example, the <u><a href="http://www.oecd.org/gender/Enhancing%20Women%20Economic%20Empowerment_Fin_1_Oct_2014.pdf">OECD</a></u> found that women account for more than 40 percents of senior managers in the United States compared to just 30 percent in Germany)</p> <p> Rather than set asides for women in top positions, policymakers who really want to see more women succeed in business should role back regulations that require businesses to make such generous allowance for parents. It may sound counter-intuitive, but this will lead to far more economic opportunity for women and will allow companies and employees to figure out arrangements that make sense to both parties when there is a need for leave. Real equality won&#39;t come from government micromanaging but from giving women more opportunity to succeed on their own, and more reason for companies to want to hire them.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795758/Carrie L. LukasMon, 8 Dec 2014 05:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBoardroom Quotas Won't Help Women<p> BERLIN &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/germany/index.html?inline=nyt-geo" title="More news and information about Germany.">Germany</a>&rsquo;s coalition government adopted a draft law two weeks ago requiring corporations to allocate at least 30 percent of supervisory board positions to women, starting in 2016. The bill will go to Parliament on Thursday and is widely expected to pass.</p> <p> Yet those cheering this decision as a major coup should hold the schnapps. Although the quota may somewhat improve corporate diversity in Europe&rsquo;s leading economy, there is little reason to think it will make any real difference for German women.</p> <p> At present, men occupy about 80 percent of boardroom positions in Germany&rsquo;s largest corporations; women hold only 22 percent of nonexecutive board positions in the 30 companies on its DAX stock exchange.</p> <p> One might assume that Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first female head of state of a country where women hold 37 percent of the seats in Parliament, would be a natural champion of boardroom quota laws. But Ms. Merkel has long opposed them; in 2011 she rejected a quota proposal, saying she wanted a more &ldquo;pragmatic solution.&rdquo;</p> <p> Indeed, it is political pragmatism, rather than ideology, that seems to underlie her change of heart: It wasn&rsquo;t until 2013, facing fierce opposition from members of her own party and seeking a united front ahead of elections, that Ms. Merkel&rsquo;s position shifted.</p> <p> The chancellor&rsquo;s initial skepticism was not unfounded. German corporations have a two-tiered board system: Nonexecutive (and less influential) &ldquo;supervisory bodies&rdquo; are staffed by outside advisers; full-time management boards oversee daily operations. The proposed quota will be restricted to supervisory bodies on which there is employee representation, which is the case at only about 100 of Germany&rsquo;s listed corporations. Thus the policy will affect only a modest share of the work force (though a further 3,500 midsize companies will be required to set their own board quotas).</p> <p> It&rsquo;s hard to see how this narrow mandate will significantly improve the prospects of the average female worker.</p> <p> Many European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, have adopted variations of a corporate board quota, albeit too recently to rigorously assess. A better test case is Norway, whose board quota law, passed in 2003, has required qualifying publicly listed companies to meet a 40 percent threshold for women since 2008. Studies of the Norwegian mandate offer little cause for optimism, however.</p> <p> One study by two University of Michigan economists, published in 2012 in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, concluded that, while Norway&rsquo;s quota policy raised female representation on the corporate boards to which it pertained, it ultimately &ldquo;imposed significant and costly constraints on Norwegian firms.&rdquo; The women who were brought on to corporate boards were younger and less experienced than their male colleagues; the economists found that those firms forced to increase women&rsquo;s representation experienced a statistically significant loss in market value compared with other companies that year.</p> <p> The German automakers Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Opel have threatened to move production out of the country rather than comply with the quota. Norway&rsquo;s experience suggests they might not be bluffing: According to the 2012 study, numerous Norwegian corporations changed their legal structure or incorporated outside the country to avoid compliance. In 2009, the number of public limited firms in Norway was less than &ldquo;70 percent of the number in 2001,&rdquo; the economists found, while the number of private limited firms, which were exempt from the quota, had increased by more than 30 percent.</p> <p> Similarly, conclusions presented in a more recent review, conducted by researchers in the United States and Norway, hardly make a ringing endorsement. Although women in the highest echelons of Norwegian firms were found to have benefited from quotas, there was &ldquo;no evidence that these gains at the very top trickled down.&rdquo;</p> <p> The researchers also reported no narrowing of the wage gap or improvement in female representation in other leadership positions, and saw nothing to suggest that younger women had modified their education or career plans because of perceived new opportunities. (The study did note that women appointed to boards as a result of the quota were generally more qualified than their female predecessors.)</p> <p> Quota advocates may counter that it is far too early to condemn these policies as failures and that focusing on short-term results misses the point: The symbolism of raising women&rsquo;s corporate profiles justifies the regulation.</p> <p> But, as Katrin Albsteiger, a 31-year-old German legislator, has argued, quotas may actually &mdash; if unintentionally &mdash; send a damning message that outweighs the benefits of increased visibility: that women can&rsquo;t successfully compete in the workplace without government intervention. No one wants &ldquo;to be labeled the &lsquo;token woman,&quot;&rsquo; Ms. Albsteiger wrote last month in a German political magazine; women &ldquo;know that they can succeed&rdquo; on their own.</p> <p> No matter how skilled or hardworking, women admitted to boards in order to fulfill a quota are unlikely to be seen as equals whose presence at the table is merited. Indeed, it is impossible to know whether some Norwegian corporations lost money following the imposition of quotas because their new female hires were unqualified &mdash; or if fears that they might be were bad enough for investors. Worse, the placement of a few women in high-visibility roles could amount to little more than window-dressing that enables companies to sidestep more sustained reforms.</p> <p> Where gender parity in Germany is concerned, there are legitimate reasons for optimism. Across the country, more women ages 25 to 34 are earning higher degrees (30 percent in 2011, from 20 percent in 2000); the work-force participation rate for German women increased from 56 percent in 1990 to 72 percent in 2012, according to World Bank estimates.</p> <p> Board quotas may seem like a convenient shortcut to workplace equality, but they are not &mdash; nor are they a long-term solution. A distraction at best, they may undo women&rsquo;s historic gains by suggesting that we cannot succeed on our own. Surely that&rsquo;s not a legacy Ms. Merkel wants to leave behind.</p> <p> <em>Carrie Lukas&nbsp;is the managing director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a nonprofit organization based in Washington.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2795757/Carrie L. LukasSun, 7 Dec 2014 18:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDemocrat 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 Forum