Good luck with that, Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess.
Every Memorial Day, DC plays a cruel trick on veterans and their fanclubs as hundreds of thousands of people stream into the city to participate in Rolling Thunder, the National Memorial Day Parade, or the many other related events around town. And instead of some lovely spring weather, these poor people are assaulted by the first horrific heat wave of the season, complete with a blazing sun frying their pasty skin, and both an official Heat Advisory and Hyperthermia alert. I didn’t see anyone passed out on the National Mall, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many people got heatstroke today. After all these veterans have been through, do we really have to ask them (and us) to go through this kind of torture every year? Or is this our penance for benefiting from their sacrifice?
Please stay cool, bagpipe dudes!
It really riles me up when people dismiss the pay gap between men and women (currently at 77%) as women’s choices to go into pink collar careers and stay home with their kids, which is part of it, but not the whole story. This is a convenient excuse people use without looking at the actual facts and studies on the issue. And to victim-blame women who are paid less, because everyone knows how lazy and whiny the wymyns are, amiright ladies?
The AAUW’s most recently study confirms what many other have found: when you control for men and women who have the same job, the same amount of experience and education, and work the same amount of hours, studies have shown women still earn 5-12% less than men do. As the study reports, “In 2010, median annual earnings in the United States for women and men working full time, year round were $36,931 and $47,715, respectively.” This report compiles statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and the Department of Education. Facts are facts, dudes. If anyone tells you the pay gap doesn’t exist, shove this report in their face, and then point out that when you account for pink collar jobs and women dropping out to care for children (or parents), it’s even worse, at 69%. Women’s naivete about how hard it is to get back into the workforce and their overall financial stability when depending on employed husbands is a whole other issue for another day (A man is not a financial plan, Ladies!). Two things Baloneyites can be proud of: Washington DC has the SMALLEST pay gap of any “state,” at 91%. I’m guessing that’s because of the high number of federal jobs, where due to the GS system, pay is transparent and public, and reasons for promotions and raises are clearly documented (in theory). And recently single, childless women in their 20s in large cities have surpassed men in the pay gap. Way to go single ladies! Maybe you don’t need to put a ring on it after all.
Which brings us to the question of why the pay gap still exists. One of the major hurdles is that in private corporations, employees’ salary and wages are a secretive business. It’s “impolite” to inquire what other people make, even your coworkers, and our corporate culture punishes those who want transparency. The other major problem is that women devalue their own worth. As the brilliant book Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever argues, most women do not negotiate salaries when offered a job or ask for raises later, which repeatedly widens the gap as they age. It doesn’t even occur to most women that they can negotiate, and that a salary offer is a starting point, not just what the company can afford to pay you. A lot of women are grateful to just get a job, and don’t have the ego to try to negotiate like most men are groomed to do (especially those familiar with business culture). And for good reason: there is clear evidence that women women negotiate for a higher salary or a raise, they are labeled as problematic, pushy bitches. Women wrongly assume that their bosses will give them raises when they have made significant accomplishments, and that if it doesn’t happen, they haven’t worked hard enough. Employers are more likely to deny salary negotiations and raises to women than men, and they are also more likely to be fired, demoted, or otherwise punished in the workplace for asking. Seriously, if you’re a lady who has a job, especially early in your career, read this book for Christsakes! It offers some great tips for getting over your fear of negotiation, not only for your salary, but for other aspects of your finances as well.
So what is this new-fangled Paycheck Fairness Act? And didn’t the Equal Pay Act and Lilly Ledbetter Act solve this problem? Well, you’d think. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is pretty straightforward. The first clause is:
“No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex…”
The problem is, as mentioned above, corporations cloak employee salaries in secrecy. Lilly Ledbetter didn’t know until she’d been working at the Goodyear tire plant for twenty years that her salary was lower than all the other male managers, and only because someone slipped her an anonymous note. Title 42 of the U.S. Code at the time stated that you had 180 days to file a claim from when the discrimination first took place. The Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Supreme Court case challenged this provision because there is no law requiring corporations to inform employees of other employees’ salaries. Ledbetter lost the case on the grounds that her pay was based on merit, i.e., she just wasn’t as good as a manager as the other guys. She claimed bullshit on this, and that her performance evaluations were sexist.
The Lilly Ledbetter Act, Obama’s first law signed after his inauguration, rewrites the time limit rules, so that the 180 clock resets every time you get a paycheck, which helps women who’ve been discriminated against over many years. It still doesn’t do anything about paycheck transparency, so that’s where the Paycheck Fairness Act comes in. It closes many loopholes that the Equal Pay Act doesn’t cover. It:
1. Doubles the amount of back pay you can sue for. Currently it’s 1-3 years.
2. Ends the exemption for small businesses to comply with the law. Half of all workers are employed by small businesses.
3. Provides clearer definitions of acceptable pay differences for men and women.
4. Prohibits employer retaliation. This is a big fucking deal, amiright Joe?
5. Provides more money to the EEOC for research, training and education related to sex discrimination.
6. Provides grant money for salary negotiation training for women and girls. Yes!
7. Requires federal contractors to submit employment information, including salaries.
So while employers are still not required to provide information on employee salaries to the employees (and probably never will, due to concerns about “right to privacy”) at least you can’t be fired or punished for asking. The bill did not pass the Senate in 2010, but the Lady Democrats of the Senate are taking it up again because of the War on Women. As Barbara Boxer put it, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore.” Does it have any chance of passing this time? The Republicans are still dead set against it, because they claim we already have the Lilly Ledbetter Act and it beats a dead horse. As anyone who can read and understand the two bills knows, it clearly doesn’t. The Democrats just have to wage a never-ending war on misinformation that Republicans spout to the right-wing press and their constituents. If it doesn’t pass, it’s only more ammunition for the Democrats in the fall, and it will only keep proving how real the War on Women is.
The ladies love you Al Franken!
Republican Congressmen apparently care so much about what happens in DC. Representative Phil Gingery (R-GA) introduced a non-binding (what the hell?) amendment to the Defense authorization bill that allows active duty military personnel in DC to carry concealed weapons. What makes active duty military personnel so special? Phil Gingery’s spokeswoman claims, the amendment “provides relief” for DC’s active duty military personnel. Relief from not being allowed to carry a gun in public places? Really, that’s some kind of burden? The racist undertones of this bill are nauseating. Actually, too bad active duty military personnel can’t get some “relief” from themselves, when apparently they kill each other in local bars when they call each other gay. Congress approved this measure on Thursday, but it’s “non-binding” . . . so what the hell is the point? Eleanor Holmes Norton says it so eloquently: “They pick on D.C. because they think they can.”
Last week my buddy, Barack kicked off his presidential re-election campaign by speaking to a group of students in Arlington Virginia. He’s been talking a lot about student loan debt and the possible rise in interest rates for student loans. Apparently, students these days (and those that took out loans years and decades ago) are graduating with an average of $25,000 dollars in student loan debt. Yeah, sounds about right. And that most Americans owe more on student loans than they do on credit cards.
None of this is news to me. In the case of the loveable misanthrope, both of these facts are true.
Meanwhile, Representative Hansen Clarke (D-MI) Introduced a bill called the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. As soon as I saw a petition for this to be introduced as a bill I signed it. I didn’t even look into what it was. All I thought was “One more step closer to not having to pay my student loans back, hellllzz yeaaahh” but after reading the bill, I’m not exactly sure what I’m supporting.
There’s some math involved:
“to establish a 10/10 Loan Repayment Plan that allows borrowers to limit their monthly payment on such loans to one-twelfth of 10% of the amount by which their adjusted gross income and that of their spouse (if applicable) exceeds 150% of the federal poverty level.”
Eh? I think that part is for people who can make their payments.
“provides forgiveness to borrowers who, after the date that is 10 years before the date of this Act’s enactment, have made 120 monthly payments under the 10/10 Loan Repayment Plan or under another repayment plan that required them to make payments at least as large as those they would have made under the 10/10 Loan Repayment Plan.”
Which, I think, means that after 10 years of paying those monthly payments, you don’t have to pay anymore.
Or… If you didn’t make those payments because you couldn’t afford to:
“Credits the months during which an individual is in deferment due to an economic hardship as months for which payment was made for purposes of the 10/10 Loan Forgiveness Program.”
So, just wait 10 years. Basically.
Oh, and if you’re a public servant… cut that time in half, yo!
“Amends the public service employee loan forgiveness program to forgive the DLs of participants who have made 60 (currently, 120) monthly payments on such loans pursuant to specified repayment plans. Includes primary care physicians in medically under-served areas in the public service employee loan forgiveness program.”
It also puts caps on the interest rates of student loans. And caps the amount of forgiveness allowed to new borrowers. There’s something in there about consolidating loans too.
I get tired of reading those long ass bills and trying to decipher their meaning after a while.
I’ll just add you to the list of student loan creditors trying to get money out of me that I don’t have.
It’s really easy: abolish marriage! Considering no one really wants to get married anymore, how about all individuals, regardless of marital status, are treated equally? The end.
Did you know that today is the National Day of Prayer (and doesn’t it looked like John Ashcroft designed that website?) That’s right, we have Harry Truman to thank for Public Law 82-324, in which he gave in to Billy Graham’s six-week campaign, er, railing against godless communists, to declare it a public holiday. Ronald Reagan also signed Public Law 100-307, “The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” Hold on there! Can’t they do that any other day of the year too? And uh, what about that separation of church and state thing?
The Freedom From Religion Foundation attempted to challenge the constitutionality of this law. U.S. district judge Barbara Crabb initially ruled in their favor in 2010, but a year later, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overruled that. So today, there will be all kinds of prayerful events (most sponsored by Focus on the Family) on government property near you, in which government employees will feel compelled to participate. In 2003 the American Humanist Association started the National Day of Reason, to expose this nonsense, and to push for a recognized celebration of reason on the same day. On Monday, the only open atheist congressperson, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), issued a proclamation for the National Day of Reason. It’s no Public Law, but it’s a start!
Did y’all watch the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this weekend? I’m not a big fan of Jimmy Kimmel, and I have to say his bit was kinda boring. A lot of comedians have complained that Obama doesn’t give them a lot of material to work with- he’s just too cool! Gag. Does anyone have the balls to go after him on the issues of tortures, leaks or campaign spending?
These dinners will probably always be boring compared to Stephen Colbert’s performance in 2006. My own personal theory is that this was the moment where the tide really turned for Bush, the Republicans, and their immunity from criticism due to the War on Terror. Up until then, the media was afraid of the Bush administration, except for some people on the left who were discounted as crazy. Colbert seemed to have broken through the insanity, and just 7 months later, Democrats won the house and we all started looking to Obama to save us. Who else but a comedian could have done it? Let’s have a little look back at the power of subversive comedy:
Full speech is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7FTF4Oz4dI
It’s April 20th and you know what that means… No, we’re not celebrating Hitler’s birthday. It’s 420 and that means it’s time to talk about pot. Weed. Marijuana. Chronic. Shwag. MaryJane. Cannabis. The Sticky Icky. Ganja. Wacky Tabackky. The Devil’s Lettuce…
Did you know that the District of Columbaloney passed the Medical Marijuana Initiative back in 1998? No? It’s not surprising since it has yet to be put into effect 13 years later. I hope none of those terminally ill people were holding their breath and died from lack of oxygen.
So, then again 2 years ago in 2010 the District decided to amend the original initiative in order to kick ‘er butt into gear. Ehhh…
So, the law is slowly coming into effect. I emphasize SLOWLY.
As of this year, the District’s Department of Health has finally reviewed and approved the permits for six cultivation centers (ie: grow ops) with licenses for dispensaries to follow shortly. Including facilities opened by Montel Williams himself!
Awesome! Let’s go buy some drugs!
Hold up there a second, dude… Do you have your medical marijuana permit card?
No, you say? Why not?
Ohhhhh, that’s because they don’t exist yet.