Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Women's Equality Day<p> In an era where each political party covets women&#39;s votes, it&#39;s hard to imagine a time when women didn&#39;t have the right to vote. Today, August 26, is Women&#39;s Equality Day. It&#39;s a day to commemorate the passage of women&#39;s suffrage.</p> <p> Although the United States ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 (yes - fewer than 100 years ago!), individual states began allowing women to vote as early as 1869 in Wyoming and Utah.&nbsp;Today women comprise more than half of voters in the United States, and their participation at all levels of government (both as voters and public officials) has grown tremendously. &nbsp;</p> <p> Often the Left uses holidays and commemorations like today to focus on areas where women have not achieved parity with men. But the name of the day is &quot;Women&#39;s Equality Day,&quot; not &quot;Women&#39;s Parity Day.&quot; &nbsp;Today should be a celebration of how far women in America have come in achieving equal rights.</p> <p> Once, women did not have equal voting rights or property rights, and they faced major hurdles in the pursuit of an education or a profession. Today, women make up the majority of students in bachelor&#39;s, master&#39;s and Ph.D. programs. Our culture has come a long way in accepting women in the workplace, and women have reached new heights in nearly every profession or pursuit imaginable. &nbsp;In the <a href="">White House statement</a> about today&#39;s commemoration, the President recognized these important gains, but still&nbsp;<strike>pandered&nbsp;</strike>pondered on the fact that women face &quot;barriers:&quot;</p> <blockquote> <p> But despite these gains, the dreams of too many mothers and daughters continue to be deferred and denied.&nbsp; There is still more work to do and more doors of opportunity to open.&nbsp; When women receive unequal pay or are denied family leave and workplace flexibility, it makes life harder for our mothers and daughters, and it hurts the loved ones they support.&nbsp; These outdated policies and old ways of thinking deprive us of our Nation&#39;s full talents and potential.</p> </blockquote> <p> This is tricky. Of course we may all agree with the President that some women face unique challenges. In an economy that is still struggling to recover, many of the hardships women face are in finding good-paying jobs and making ends meet. These are hardships that many men face as well. And as the President mentioned, workplace flexibility is very beneficial to women.&nbsp;</p> <p> But of course the President and his political allies want to continue to propose legislation that <a href="">overregulates the workplace</a> and <a href="">creates new inflexible and expensive entitlement programs</a> in the name of protecting women. These misguided ideas would backfire on the women they are intended to help.</p> <p> Today should be a day where women of all political stripes come together to celebrate 94 years of voting rights protected by the 19th Amendment. &nbsp;We can recognize that not all women have achieved the American Dream, and that greater economic freedom and economic growth would allow them the chance to do so. But we should also recognize that America is not an inherently sexist or anti-woman culture, and that we have come a long way in achieving equal rights and opportunities for women.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathTue, 26 Aug 2014 16:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAn Ode to Mo'ne Davis & Questions about Title IX<p> Mo&#39;ne Davis, a 5&#39;4&quot; little league pitcher, has received a lot of attention during this year&#39;s Little League World Series. She throws fastballs in the 70-mph range, hits well and plays solid defense (sometimes at shortstop). She&#39;s also composed and humble in her media interviews. What an impressive young athlete. Her future is bright.</p> <p> When I watch Mo&#39;ne play, I can&#39;t help but think of Title IX, the statute that requires that men and women have equal educational opportunities... even in sports. While the principle behind Title IX is popular and noble, the execution has taken the wrong approach by imposing a de facto quota system on college sports.&nbsp;</p> <p> Mo&#39;ne isn&#39;t the first young woman to play little league ball. Like <a href="">Alicia Hunolt and Victoria Ruelas</a> before her, Mo&#39;ne will have to face difficult decisions as she goes to college, where there are no women&#39;s baseball teams. She could play softball at the collegiate level, or she could do as she says she wants and play college basketball.</p> <p> The data is very clear that Title IX has resulted in more women playing sports. That&#39;s not a bad thing! But the truth is that Title IX&#39;s quota system has had some unintended effects.</p> <p> First of all, quotas aren&#39;t about the spirit of Title IX -- equal opportunity. Quotas are about equal outcomes. As fascinating and talented as Mo&#39;ne is, she is a rarity. Soon she will head to high school where in 2013, only <a href="">1,259 girls played high school baseball compared with 474,791 boys nationwide</a>. &nbsp;That doesn&#39;t mean she shouldn&#39;t have the opportunity to play -- she should. But clearly boys show a greater interest in baseball than girls, and this is true for sports as a whole. And boys are about twice as likely to say that sports are a &quot;<a href="">big part of who they are</a>.&quot; So it shouldn&#39;t be problematic if more boys than girls end up participating in sports. This is largely a reflection of interests, and it isn&#39;t something we should try to &quot;fix&quot; with quotas.</p> <p> Secondly, and perhaps even more unforeseeable, has been the mass takeover of college enrollment by female majorities. Title IX&#39;s quota system requires that athletic participation rates among female and male students reflect the population of the campus as a whole. Now that women account for&nbsp;<a href="">57 percent of college students</a>, this means that colleges need to have a nearly equal percentage of their athletic teams comprised of female athletes to stay in compliance. So now colleges aren&#39;t just trying to make participation in sports 50/50 among women and men, but because there are more women in college, more athletic opportunities are available for women as well. This is unfair to male athletes, and frankly, doesn&#39;t make a lot of sense.</p> <p> The saddest part of any quota system is what is does to the truly deserving: Quotas water down standards of excellence and call into question the credentials of those who seem to benefit from affirmative action. Mo&#39;ne Davis shouldn&#39;t be a statistic. She&#39;s exceptional. She deserves credit for playing on a field full of guys. It&#39;s not a statute that got her to where she is, and it&#39;s not a statute that will be responsible for her future athletic success. It&#39;s her individual hard work and talent -- that&#39;s where the praise belongs.</p> HeathThu, 21 Aug 2014 13:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBusinesses on the front lines of Ferguson, MO protests • Cavuto HeathWed, 20 Aug 2014 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHome Depot & housing market. Tech giants target kids. Atlantic City casino chaos • Cavuto HeathTue, 19 Aug 2014 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWorth the cost? Dems push rules requiring calorie labels on vending machines • Cavuto HeathTue, 19 Aug 2014 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIf Possible, Avoid Borrowing for College<p> This week, millions of students will return to campus for another year of college. What an exciting (and expensive!) time in life. The average 2014 graduate who took out loans <a href="">owes $33,000</a>; all together debtors nationwide owe <a href="">more than $1 trillion</a>. Recent reports have shown that graduates with college debt are <a href="">sicker, sadder, and face financial troubles</a> like delayed home ownership and even delayed marriage.</p> <p> Even though borrowing for the sake of college is often called &ldquo;good debt,&rdquo; because it&rsquo;s viewed as an investment in human capital, we still ought to apply one of the most fundamental financial principles to paying for college: Avoid debt if you can.</p> <p> As a qualifier, not everyone can.&nbsp; Not all educational borrowing is misguided, and certainly there are situations where students have no better option.&nbsp; But for others, there are ways avoid to taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans. Making financially responsible choices now is much easier than the road of repayment later.</p> <p> Here are some practical tips on how to minimize college borrowing:</p> <p> <strong>Choose a college based on value. </strong>The cost of a degree varies wildly from one campus to another. Some of this is a reflection of the quality of educational opportunities that are available to students, but some of the differences aren&rsquo;t a reflection of true utility (the economic concept of usefulness). &nbsp;Do a careful cost-benefit analysis of college options to get the best bang-for-your-buck.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s valid to ask questions like: What&rsquo;s the average class size? Who are the professors? What is the alumni network like? Will the prestige of this college open doors for me that other colleges couldn&rsquo;t?&nbsp; And it&rsquo;s also important for students to ask: What is all of this worth to my family and me? For some students, this means considering the lower-cost alternatives of online and/or community college courses.</p> <p> <strong>Choose a degree based on value. </strong>Perhaps even more important, students should focus on using their opportunities on campus to prepare for a successful career.</p> <p> Our generation has been spoon-fed the advice to &ldquo;follow our dreams.&rdquo; While this idealistic way of thinking is attractive and at times valuable, it&rsquo;s also important for college students to realistically evaluate where their strengths, talents, and interests intersect with a market demand. There is high market demand for nursing majors, lower market demand for philosophy majors.&nbsp; This isn&rsquo;t to crush anyone&rsquo;s dreams, but earnings and job stability do a lot to improve quality of life, and students should consider these factors in the tradeoffs that different degrees offer.</p> <p> <strong>Consider saving up for college before-the-fact. </strong>&nbsp;On average, earnings are higher for college graduates than those who have yet to enter college, which suggests that getting a degree should be students&rsquo; first priority.&nbsp; But earnings of zero &ndash; as unemployed college graduates have &ndash; are even worse than minimum wage (especially considering the student debt many of these graduates also have to shoulder). The <a href="">Economic Policy Institute reports</a> that 8.5 percent of college grads between the ages of 21 and 24 are currently jobless. High school graduates might consider living at home for an extra year or two and working in entry-level jobs to get some useful job experience and save up for college rather than taking out bigger loans.</p> <p> Heading off to college at age 18 is culturally popular.&nbsp; Also culturally popular, but not nearly as cool, is moving back in with Mom and Dad after college.&nbsp; This is something to think about for high school graduates tempted by student loans.</p> <p> <strong>Consider fast-tracking your degree. </strong>Three years of college is cheaper than four.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s not true for everyone that &ldquo;College is the best years of your life.&rdquo; In fact, if you are really there for the purpose of getting an education (rather than goofing off and having fun), it probably won&rsquo;t be the best years of your life. There&rsquo;s a lot to be said for sharing fun times with dorm mates and joining campus clubs and activities, but if you are studying on borrowed money, time is of the essence.</p> <p> Why not study harder, take on a few extra hours or summer sessions and get out to the real world a year ahead of your peers? This not only means a year of less borrowing, but an added year of earning. &nbsp;Perhaps for you (as for me), the gainful working years after college will be the best years of your life.</p> <p> <strong>Vote for lawmakers who understand and value free-market student lending</strong>. One reason we have so much college debt in the United States is that in 2010, the <a href="">federal government took over the (already flawed and subsidized) student lending industry</a> and removed much of the market forces that kept college loans a reflection of the college market. This was a huge public policy mistake.&nbsp; Students and their families should be free to borrow &ndash; or not borrow &ndash; in a private, competitive college-lending marketplace.</p> <p> Affording college is difficult for many American families. But rather than rush into an extremely costly purchase, families should treat college like any other good. Consumers should evaluate the value of different college institutions and the degrees they offer, and they&rsquo;d do well to avoid as much debt as possible. In the end, even good debt is debt, and we&rsquo;re generally better off without it. &nbsp;</p> HeathFri, 15 Aug 2014 14:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew reports show a significant number of ObamaCare sign-ups aren't paying • Cavuto HeathTue, 12 Aug 2014 21:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDo illegal immigrant children have a right to U.S. educational system? • Cavuto HeathTue, 12 Aug 2014 21:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFast food joints being innovative and listening to customer demands • Cavuto HeathTue, 12 Aug 2014 21:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHave Congress and the White House been unproductive this year? • Cavuto HeathTue, 5 Aug 2014 07:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCan average investor be trusted with their own money? • Cavuto HeathTue, 5 Aug 2014 07:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Halbig Case Is Already A Loss For Big Government<p> A legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act,&nbsp;<em>Halbig v. Burwell</em>, gained momentum and notoriety when a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Obama Administration acted illegally in authorizing subsidies and tax credits in the federal exchange. The text and intent of the law, challengers allege, was for subsidies to only be available through state-established exchanges (not the federal exchange).</p> <p> Of course,&nbsp;<em>Halbig</em>&nbsp;proponents would be happy to see their case prevail at the Supreme Court level. This would deal a major blow to Obamacare. But regardless of any further rulings, this case &ndash; just by its existence &ndash; should undermine support for President Obama&rsquo;s health law by highlighting the lawlessness and incompetence of big government.</p> <p> The debate over health policy in the United States largely revolves around one question: What role should the government play?&nbsp; Some people argue that the government should play the role of &ldquo;single-payer,&rdquo; the one and only source of reimbursement for medical care. Others believe the government should stay out of it.</p> <p> Obamacare is somewhere in the middle, although it is significantly closer to government-run health care. Millions more Americans have become dependent on the government for their health insurance (through the Medicaid expansion and subsidized Obamacare exchange plans), and what remains of the private-sector is more highly regulated than ever before. All insurance plans must meet the federal government standard.</p> <p> How much do Americans trust the government to competently deliver (or help deliver) health insurance? In 2013, Gallup asked if Americans believed it was the government&rsquo;s responsibility to provide health insurance, and&nbsp;<a href="">56 percent of adults</a>&nbsp;said no. The issues and the facts of the&nbsp;<em>Halbig</em>&nbsp;case will only serve to bring more Americans to this point of view.</p> <p> Supporters of Obamacare are reading from a confused script in their response to this case. Some say that it was a &ldquo;drafting error&rdquo; that resulted in the omission of subsidies from the federal exchange. Others believed that very few &ndash; perhaps none &ndash; of the states would decline to establish their own exchanges, and that&rsquo;s why this issue was not discussed previously.</p> <p> <a href=";;t=30m59s">Not one</a>, but&nbsp;<a href=";">two videos</a>&nbsp;surfaced of Jonathan Gruber, also known as the architect of Obamacare, explaining in 2012 that, &ldquo;if you&rsquo;re a state and you don&rsquo;t set up an exchange, that means that your citizens don&rsquo;t get tax credits.&rdquo; This is pretty damning evidence that the law intended for the subsidies to act as a carrot, or an incentive, to get states to run their own exchanges.</p> <p> Regardless of what happens in the courts, this looks bad. None of the possible explanations build trust in government-run health care. How could a &ldquo;drafting error&rdquo; imperil the implementation of a major reform in 36 states, affecting as many as&nbsp;<a href="">57 million people and 250,000 firms</a>? Or the other explanation &ndash; perhaps even worse &ndash; is this: Out of desperation to fix this error, the executive branch would commit behind-the-scenes trickery, illegal and unauthorized executive rulings within the IRS, and then lie about their intent all along?</p> <p> This reeks of a federal government that is lawless and incompetent &ndash; not the entity you want in charge of your health care.</p> <p> Before Obamacare, much of health insurance regulation was the purview of states.&nbsp; Even this was better, since state governments are closer to the people.&nbsp; But the design of Obamacare was not meant to honor federalism. It took a Supreme Court ruling to make the Medicaid expansion optional for states, and a vital piece of evidence in this decision was a&nbsp;<a href="">letter from then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius</a>, who threatened funding for the state of Arizona&rsquo;s entire Medicaid program if the state did not implement CHIP as dictated by the feds. Clearly, this Administration is not afraid to try to bully states into compliance by withholding federal funds.</p> <p> The original language about exchanges said, &ldquo;Each state shall establish&hellip;&rdquo; an exchange. No room for choice.&nbsp; But a later revision provided a fallback plan. Perhaps the sloppy writers of this law foresaw a legal challenge in forcing states to create their own exchanges. A later section explains that if a state &ldquo;elects&rdquo; not to establish an exchange, the federal government would do so in their place. The question in&nbsp;<em>Halbig</em>, is whether the 36 states who defaulted to this arrangement would have federal subsidies, tax credits, and even the individual and employer mandates they trigger.</p> <p> The fact that this is even in question creates political trouble for Obamacare and for all government-run health care supporters. It should create further questions in the minds of Americans about whether the federal government should play such a central role in something so personal and so vital as our health insurance and health care.</p> HeathWed, 30 Jul 2014 17:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHow to Take the Free-Market Message to Young, Unmarried Voters<p> This summer I got married. In political terms, this means I exited one of the most left-leaning voting blocs (single women) and joined a more evenly divided group (married women). But I&rsquo;ve only spent about two months being married; my other 26 years I spent as a single. During that time I noticed that free-market supporters often committed serial mistakes in marketing their ideas to my demographic.</p> <p> Philip Klein wrote in his&nbsp;<a href=""><em>Washington Examiner</em>&nbsp;column</a>&nbsp;last week that conservatives can&rsquo;t leave unmarried voters behind. He&rsquo;s absolutely right. As Millennials delay or disregard marriage, the percentage of the public that is unmarried has increased dramatically and will continue to do so. According to the University of Virginia report, &ldquo;<a href="">Knot Yet</a>,&rdquo; the percent of women married by their late 20s has dropped from 90 to 50 percent since the 1970s.</p> <p> While Klein makes an excellent argument for better political marketing to singles, he stops short of telling conservatives and libertarians what they can do better. That&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;ve compiled the following list of tips &mdash; just from my personal experience &mdash; to improve political communications with young, unmarried voters.</p> <p> <strong>Take Back &ldquo;Community&rdquo;</strong></p> <p> One of the most important moments of the 2012 election cycle was former President Clinton, sitting on the DNC stage, saying, &ldquo;If you want a you&rsquo;re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared prosperity and shared responsibility &mdash; a we&rsquo;re-all-in-this-together society &mdash; you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.&rdquo;</p> <p> Clinton presented a pretty clear choice. For singles, especially, life can often be lonely. This makes Clinton&rsquo;s promise of a &ldquo;together society&rdquo; appealing, and now today we have &ldquo;community organizer&rdquo; in the White House.</p> <p> As free-market supporters, we don&rsquo;t talk enough about our alternative vision for communities: voluntary relationships driven by love, benevolence, and charity. We don&rsquo;t often enough call the left out for their&nbsp;<em>forced</em>&nbsp;form of &ldquo;community&rdquo; &mdash; yes, &ldquo;communism&rdquo; comes from the same root word.</p> <p> Sadly, my peers are less familiar with what it means to live in real community. Millennials, especially singles, are less likely to attend church or to be part of the local Lions&rsquo; Club, Rotary Club, Junior League or PTA. Fewer young singles can afford to buy their own homes, meaning they don&rsquo;t interact with a Homeowners&rsquo; Association or even the local Welcome Wagon.</p> <p> These voluntary community associations played a big role in my parents&rsquo; life, but so far they&rsquo;ve been mostly absent in the life of my peers, especially since we left our parents&rsquo; households or the more structured environments of high school or college. This presents a political challenge for supporters of voluntary community; Millennials need to know that&nbsp;<em>real community</em>&nbsp;is a product of freedom, not force.</p> <p> <strong>Careful with Language</strong></p> <p> Politicians are apt to describe how their policy agenda will affect &ldquo;families.&rdquo; While I&rsquo;m proud to be a daughter, sister, niece, etc., I did not think of myself in a family unit during my single years. Why not use &ldquo;individuals and families&rdquo; or just &ldquo;Americans?&rdquo; Simple word-choice signals like these can be subconsciously isolating or inviting.</p> <p> Also, can we avoid gratuitous bashing? I mean immigrant-bashing, union-bashing, sexual-revolution-bashing, and even Democrat-bashing? There&rsquo;s a right way and a wrong way to critique public policies and cultural trends, without the unnecessary blame-laying and divisive language.</p> <p> <strong>Emphasize Control over One&rsquo;s Own Life</strong></p> <p> One basic philosophical difference between the left and the right is this: How much control does a person actually have over his or her life? The left would have us believe that all of life is a game of chance; some people get lucky and others don&rsquo;t. Young singles, who are often focused on professional and personal goals, need to hear that their goals are&nbsp;<em>achievable&nbsp;</em>and their outcomes<em>depend on their efforts</em>.</p> <p> The left has been incredibly successful wooing singles in my generation with the message of social justice, because they&rsquo;ve first convinced singles that no success is earned. (I.e., &ldquo;You didn&rsquo;t build that.&rdquo;) We have to change this premise if we are going to combat the redistributive tendencies that naturally follow.</p> <p> While it is fair and good to acknowledge that life comes with some uncertainty, the left&rsquo;s message of victimhood is disempowering. Here, the right has an opportunity to offer an alternative vision and become the party of empowerment.</p> <p> <strong>A Huge Missed Opportunity on Entitlement Reform and the Economy</strong></p> <p> Many of my peers do not understand how Social Security and Medicare are funded. In fact, many older Americans don&rsquo;t get it either. Talking about &mdash; or better yet,&nbsp;<em>doing something about</em>&nbsp;&mdash; the inherent unfairness of these entitlement programs would be a big win with young, single workers. These workers, at the bottom of the income chain, shouldn&rsquo;t have to fund the retirement or health insurance of baby boomers.</p> <p> Like any demographic group, single Americans have their own set of priorities when it comes to the issues. Student loans and underemployment plague many of my single (and married) young peers. Free-market supporters need to spend more air-time showing that these issues matter to us, and that we have solutions.</p> <p> <strong>Loosen Up</strong></p> <p> Finally, loosen up. I know President Obama has been in the White House for six years, and he&rsquo;s arguably been one of the worst presidents in history. I know the debt is $17 trillion. I know the labor force participation rate is at a 30-year-low. But being the serious, stuffy, bearer of bad news is not the way to reach young singles.</p> <p> Although the 20s can be a rocky decade, full of tough choices and big changes, many young singles see this time in their life as fun and exhilarating. They don&rsquo;t want to listen to nonstop bad news about the world around them, but rather, what are you going to do to fix it? What can you say to give me hope? That was what was so attractive about candidate Obama in 2008.</p> <p> And, if truth be told, that&rsquo;s the exciting thing about free markets: People working together to innovate and add value have already solved many problems, and we can continue to do so, bringing hope of a better life to the whole world. Millennials need to hear that message.</p> <p> <strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p> Being young and single was really fun. (For the record, being married is fun, too.) But in my single years, I often felt that my cohort was being ignored by conservative and libertarian messages that seemed to focus on families, faith or just plain freedom. These (of course) are vital principles to emphasize to all age groups, but sadly fall on deaf ears among many single Millennials. By including messages of community, inclusiveness, empowerment, fairness and opportunity &mdash; all with a brighter, more hopeful tone &mdash; the political right can make inroads with this group.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathWed, 30 Jul 2014 15:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSticker Shock: Unmet ObamaCare promises costing consumers a lot • Cavuto HeathWed, 30 Jul 2014 13:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHillary Clinton getting a pass for her wealth when others were scrutinized? • Cavuto HeathWed, 30 Jul 2014 13:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum