Women Collaborate While Power Colludes

 “For as long as I can remember I’ve felt compelled to be of service to my community. It is a lifetime commitment rooted in a family tradition of public service. As I’ve watched the problems caused by a lack of effective, honest government grow,  I’ve decided to be part of the solution and I am now running for the Michigan State Senate.” (www.rosemarybayer.com)

“For as long as I can remember I’ve felt compelled to be of service to my community. It is a lifetime commitment rooted in a family tradition of public service. As I’ve watched the problems caused by a lack of effective, honest government grow, I’ve decided to be part of the solution and I am now running for the Michigan State Senate.” (www.rosemarybayer.com)

Mid-week THIS week, I could use some good news, couldn’t you? Assume the worst for those Republican Senators on the US Judiciary Committee, who refuse the usual protocol when an allegation against any judicial nomination raises its ugly head.  Let them pretend to be fair, in an even worse way than Senators pretended to be fair about Anita Hill 27 years ago. That time, they at least investigated.

American women (and the men who love us) will see the testimony, and hear the questions set against the background of the Georgetown Prep School yearbook, and they will vote in November, and increasingly they will run for office and win elections.

How do I know that? Michigan, the home state I write about in Screwnomics, played a pivotal role in 2016. But now a record number of women from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds have won primaries in state and national elections there—and promise to be community-minded problem-solvers.

  Rashida Tlaib speaks to staff, supporters and the press after the Associated Press called Tlaib's race in her favor at one of Tlaib's field offices in Northwest Detroit on Aug. 7, 2018.   (Photo: Cameron Pollack, Detroit Free Press)

Rashida Tlaib speaks to staff, supporters and the press after the Associated Press called Tlaib's race in her favor at one of Tlaib's field offices in Northwest Detroit on Aug. 7, 2018. (Photo: Cameron Pollack, Detroit Free Press)

Kathleen Gray at The Detroit Free Press writes a long article about the phenomenon, because only a long article would cover it all. Shannon Garrett of Holland, who co-founded VoteRunLead, is training women to run for office—172 of them from Michigan.  She says: “The reason we’re at this point in politics is because we’ve had the same people serving in political seats since the dawn of democracy, and that’s mostly white men. And the politics has become less about policy and more about power.”

Candidates from diverse genders, race, and income level promise better problem-solving, Garrett says, “Because if you have the same group of people looking at the problem, they’re going to come up with the same ways of solving these problems.”

Ms. Garrett is much nicer than I am, so I am going to point out that “the same group of people,” is not just mostly white males, but also mostly rich white males. Forty-percent of Congressional members are millionaires. Those who aren’t, depend on funds from “the donor class,” who are their billionaire friends, operating a profitable elections industry.

Maybe it’s a co-incidence, but I’ve noticed Congressional health insurance and retirement benefits are outrageously better than yours and mine. Michigan state Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), who could be in line to become Michigan’s first female Speaker of the House, told The Detroit Free Press: “When we have more balance in gender, we have better and more ways to communicate. And in general, you hear about women being really strong at collaboration….”

We surely could use some productive collaboration to counter the fakery of collusion, pretending fairness to protect an unchecked power.

—Rickey Gard Diamond

FYI:  (Rosemary Bayer, whom I’ve never met, is the cousin of my son-in-law, who sent me news of her surprise Senate race. He’s very proud of her!)

The Benefits Cliff

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"Ok, Screwnomics, here's a story of how the economy works against women. As a single mother, graduate student, I had more income from student loans, food stamps and fuel assistance than I do working full time as a mental health therapist. I fall into the gray area, the 'cliff' where people fall off - where you earn too much to qualify for assistance, and too little to pay the bills. So—am I being forced to share housing with a workingman, so that I can pay the bills? What if I prefer to be independent?"

Good question, Cliffhanger! We know some earnest souls believe the best welfare reform is marriage—your taxes even helped pay for programs, dangling this solution. But we’re with you. Even should you marry, you’re wise to want independence. Economic vulnerability is a gateway to other risks.

 One clue you mention is that word “mother.” There’s evidence that moms, especially single ones, are the worst paid of anyone, regardless of their field, regardless of education. Mom’s Rising names it The Motherhood Penalty. We looked up the starting pay for mental health therapists and found it was about $42,000 a year. Assuming a 40-hour workweek, that’s about $20 an hour, before taxes. Your contract could well be less.

Then we went to the MIT Livable Wage calculator that estimates basic costs for living, which varies in all 50 states. We looked at Vermont (where WE live) and saw an adult living with one child annually needs $13,511 for housing; $7593 for transportation; $8209 for childcare, and $6871 for medical insurance and copays. Your livable wage here would be: $45,660. Just losing your childcare alone costs an arm and a leg. Jana Kasperkevec at The Guardian suggests that minimum wage legislation needs always to be considered in tandem with the benefit “cliff” that too many learn about the hard way.

Are there ways to preserve benefits to help moms and young people bridge to better paying jobs? Are there some benefits, like food stamps or childcare, that should be more universally subsidized—and with living wages for child care providers? (They’re often on welfare, like fast food workers.) Could the government provide a universal cash allowance for the time and care families invest in readying the “next generation” of our nation? You can learn more about Eleanor Rathbone and England’s “Mother’s Allowance” and other solutions in Screwnomics.

Livable wages need to be more widely understood by state legislators and business organizations, the public and the private sector—and also by students who are taking out loans. Stagnant and shrinking wages have been the majority’s lot since 1970, and the recent tax cut for corporations? It should have been a tax cut for mental health therapists. If this keeps up, more Americans will need your help!

We believe EconoGirlfriend peer groups and problem solving can make a difference—thanks so much for sharing here.

Hey readers, can you relate? Do you have a story to share? Tell us here!

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 Photo credit: Christie Hemm Klok/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Photo credit: Christie Hemm Klok/The Washington Post/Getty Images

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Wake Up, Corporate Bodies!

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The glass ceiling was a phrase first coined in an article in The Wall Street Journal, to describe what professional women confront—an invisible, unspoken rule that says, you can only go so far.  Men continue to dominate corporate management and corporate boards that direct a company’s mission, goals and bottom line, as well as its spirit and character.

Now a California state senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) is the author of a bill intended “to blow up the glass ceiling,” she says, adding that company boards need “a woman’s perspective.” Ken Martin at FOXBusiness reports that a majority in the California Senate agrees with her. They just passed this game-changer, sending it halfway to the finish line. The bill would require at least one woman on company boards by the end of 2019, with a schedule for increasing numbers. By 2021, a six-member board would seat three women members.

OMG. Equal numbers? Opposed by many business groups, of course, amendments are expected. Some San Francisco corporations already have met the standard, according to this source, noting Airbnb just expanded its board to include one added woman, and the female Pixar CFO, Ann Mather, now serves on two boards. Wowee.

Is that progress? Only if you believe ambitious women will be Angels. Right now the selling point made by Catalyst, a women’s organization examining women’s status in business, is that boards with more women do better financially. That’s not a bad thing, but in itself would not necessarily make for change down where the majority of women still work. Kim Elsesser at Forbes cites a study that actually claims boards with women paid their CEOs 15 percent more—hardly the group most in need of pay raises.

Work policies need to change to include greater diversity and pay equity, more flexible work schedules, and ample family leave time for everyone. For that we’ll need reshaping of corporate structure and cultures from the bottom, as well as from the top, aMarjorie Kelly argues in Owning Our Future.  An economy now waged as competitive war, measured solely by dollars, can be changed into one that wages life. But a living economy needn’t “blow up” a thing—nor are richer CEOs and profits for a few its best yardstick.

Nevertheless, Jackson is shaking norms that need to be woke! You go, girl!

Another Woman Lifts the Curtain on Big Money Wizards

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I just finished reading Democracy in Chains by historian Nancy MacLean, a book colored, she says, by a transformation of politics in North Carolina, where she teaches at Duke University. MacLean discovered an abandoned trove of documents on school vouchers, belonging to a little known economist named James McGill Buchanan. Promoting theories he misleadingly named “public choice,” Buchanan first rose to prominence at the Univ. of Virginia, while actually working for minority rule by the wealthy. He also eventually won the “almost-Nobel prize” in Economics that I expose in my book, Screwnomics.

I write about a similar mean-spirited change in my home state of Michigan, and critique prize-winner Milton Friedman’s damage—but had no knowledge of Friedman’s friend, until MacLean’s book. That’s how Buchanan wanted it. He and his colleagues, well funded by wealthy donors like Scaife, Volker, and the Koch brothers, provided economic arguments to oppose the civil rights movement, social security, public schools, Medicare and Medicaid. Eventually he and the Kochs set up influential centers at Virginia’s George Mason University, closer to Washington D.C.

All along the way, Buchanan’s autocratic moves trumped academic freedom. MacLean doesn’t note the hyper-masculinity of their true-believer culture, but it surely was male-dominated by male dominators. Backed by big male money, Buchanan’s rationales transformed law schools and state legislatures, favoring the corporate elite, not us less powerful plebes. In their new orthodoxy, only personal responsibility of the so-called “makers” counted—and income taxes or Medicare or Social Security taxes that sensibly redistributed wealth was robbery of the rich.

Interestingly, Buchanan and his tribe knew they needed to cloak their real intents, and did so, using code to avoid extremist and racist terms. They considered women a problem. Why? Women, who’d only won the vote in 1920, and who largely remain less wealthy, were more readily open to governmental “collective action,” they said, or democracy in action.

That’s to be celebrated. We can be glad that females can now go to school, a relatively new phenomenon, and still far from universal.  (The University of Virginia accepted its first black male student in 1955—but did not admit women until 1970.) Together with two other courageous women’s books, Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine and Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains pulls back the curtain on a fake money wizardry that has not only impoverished our US Treasury, but threatens to bankrupt our American ideals.

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The Kochs and their billionaire network are not the first to aspire to a kingdom—but corruption like theirs never ends well. A sizeable number of American men have been so seduced by an ideology with chest-pounding Alpha baboon traits, that perhaps only American women can awaken a larger, more essential context of mutual exchanges—ones more productive, humane, and sustainable than constant male battles for dominance.