Screwnomics

She's Disrupting Money's Masculinity

Sallie Krawcheck says money isn’t just transactional, it’s about relationships.

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!

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.

 

Women & Economics: from "Redlined" to "Screwnomics," the Impact of Economic Policy on Gender and Race

(l.to r.) Rickey Gard Diamond, author of Screwnomics; Linda Gartz, author of Redlined, Elizabeth McCree, Benton Harbor, Michigan attorney, and Kim Jorgensen Gane, St. Joseph, Michigan realtor, discuss the real life results of economic policies with an audience at The Box Factory in St. Joseph, July 31, 2018. Ami Hendrickson (not pictured) co-hosted the event, and reported on it at MuseInks. 

(l.to r.) Rickey Gard Diamond, author of Screwnomics; Linda Gartz, author of Redlined, Elizabeth McCree, Benton Harbor, Michigan attorney, and Kim Jorgensen Gane, St. Joseph, Michigan realtor, discuss the real life results of economic policies with an audience at The Box Factory in St. Joseph, July 31, 2018. Ami Hendrickson (not pictured) co-hosted the event, and reported on it at MuseInks. 

On Tuesday, I had the honor of being the emcee for "Women & Economics: Impact of Economic Policy on Gender & Race" at the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph, MI.

This event, organized and produced by my dear friend and #Write2TheEnd co-founder, Kim Jorgensen Gane, featured authors Rickey Gard Diamond and Linda Gartz. 

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Close to a hundred women (and the men who love them) attended the event, asking questions, and sharing stories. Yes, the personal is economic.

Gartz is an Emmy award-winning video producer whose documentaries and TV productions have been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, and syndicated nationwide. She kicked off the evening with her new book Redlined. 

Gartz' family lived in Chicago West Side at a time when racist lending rules allowed banks to refuse loans or mortgages to anyone in areas with even one black resident.

Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, Redlined tells the story of Gartz’s parents, Fred and Lil, who choose to stay in their integrating neighborhood, overcoming prejudices even as their community sinks into increasing poverty and their own relationship decays. 

Diamond spoke next. She is a Berrien County native who lived in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, and Coloma during her formative years. Now she hails from Vermont, where she was the founding editor of Vermont Woman and taught at Vermont College of Norwich University.

In 2014, she received a Hedgebrook fellowship to create a readable, relatable book on economics. And thus, Screwnomics was born.

Screwnomics introduces readers to EconoMan (not every man, thank heaven) and encourages those who have traditionally been encouraged to work for less -- or for nothing -- to think about their own economic memoir and confront our economic system’s hyper-masculine identity. Lest you fear it's full of man-bashing: it's not. However, some of its truths about the systematic erasure of women from economic discussion are rather uncomfortable. For instance, Diamond says:

"Around the world, women and their children remain the poorest of the poor, the most vulnerable, and the least noteworthy to most economists. For example, Thomas Piketty's recent and much celebrated 700-plus-page work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which so expertly describes growing inequality has exactly seven index listings for women or females."

Using humor, personal anecdotes, and history, Diamond's book is the most readable one on the subject of economics I have ever encountered.

After the author presentations, local attorney Elizabeth McCree joined us for a panel discussion on the realities of gender, race, poverty, and ways to combat the inequalities we see.

What can we do? Some suggestions from the evening:

1.) Educate yourself. Read. Familiarize yourself with the policies and practices that affect you.

2.) Recognize inequality when you see it. Even if you are not on the receiving end of the inequality, be prepared to identify it and -- most importantly -- to insist on equitable change.

3.) Vote. Seriously. Do this thing. Laws exist to serve the people and benefit society. Make your voice heard and make your vote count.

4.) Speak up. Many people told their personal stories on Tuesday evening. Our shared experiences pave the way toward greater empathy, in-depth dialogue, and a more informed community.

—Ami Hendrickson

A Conscious CEO Among a Growing Group of Women Business Leaders

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Vermont is dear to Screwnomics’ heart because of its “good neighbors with good fences” policies, and also because we call this beautiful Green Mountain State home. Women entrepreneurs, women legislators, and women “thought leaders” thrive here—and nowhere else do so many business people care about a larger picture than their dollar-profit “bottom line.” The biggest chapter of Businesses for Social Responsibility in the country, Vermont BSR, is here: https://vbsr.org/

This month, the CEO of Green Mountain Power, Mary Powell, a rare entity in herself in the energy industry, made #12 of a list of Thirty World Changing Women in Conscious Business, 2018. As background, a Catalyst study, in Nov. 2016, found that there are fewer women in the energy field than there are women in tech. http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-energy

If you look at Mary Powell’s direction, predating the time of Trump, you may see why her touchy-feely management has brought her success. Says Rachel Zurer, the editor of Conscious Company Media:

“Is it just a coincidence that the first electric utility to become a B Corp is also one of the few led by a woman? We don’t know, but since she took the helm at Green Mountain Power (GMP) in 2008, Powell has continued to break barriers and shake up assumptions about what a utility can be — going as far as to call the business an “un-utility.

In one example of her obsessive focus on knowing customers, she moved the company HQ from a steel-and-glass fortress into a building shared with line-workers — in other words, the ones who meet customers every day. Under her leadership, GMP also became the first utility to partner with Tesla on Powerwall home energy solutions, and the first to offer a battery/solar off-grid package to its customers. Her focus on “leading with love” seems to be working: in a survey required by Vermont regulators in 2016, GMP received a 94 percent customer service satisfaction score and a 96 percent on providing reliable electric service.”

Powell advises other corporate leaders to “Be bold. Don’t think of yourself — think about the impact you can have. Make the mission larger than yourself.” How does she do that? What gives her hope? She said, “Love. I have long believed in the power of love: the power it holds to transform lives, the power it holds to transform companies, the power it holds to solve problems and to innovate a future that is better than our present or past.”

It’s EroNomics, the invisible passion, the renewable fuel for an economy we talk about in Screwnomics!

If you’re looking for more hope, you can access the whole list of 30 transformative business leaders, investors, and “conscious capitalists” here. This looks like a great media site. https://consciouscompanymedia.com/sustainable-business/30-world-changing-women-conscious-business-2018/

You’ll find among these another woman hero many Vermonters have shaken hands with:  the amazing Judy Wicks, who founded the White Dog Café with its local-sourced excellent food, who also founded a woman-friendly Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). https://bealocalist.org/

 

The Gini-coefficient is not about a girl named Gini

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The Gini-coefficient is a complex measurement of income inequality that nations take an interest in. Why? Because, as I write in Screwnomics:
       
"Too little for the majority has made for an era of global disruption, huge migrations of populations, and wars over energy sources, food, and water. This disruption is why the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its spy-wonks track Gini-coefficient ratios country-by-country, as does the UN, the World Bank, and the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). All are aware that people deprived of what they need to live will tend to object—sometimes violently. 

"Yet current US policy—or rather our lack of it—allows the freewheeling operations of economic vultures on Wall Street. Vulture traders and hedge funds also watch these Gini-coefficient numbers, country-by-country. They are looking for the weakest to prey on." 

Who has the highest rate of income inequality? Turkey? Sudan? NOPE. It's the US, says gini-research.org, an organization of scholars from around the world examining trends in search of insights and warnings. So who exactly is preying on whom becomes the question, yes?!  The organization is here: gini-research.org/articles/home 

Their US report, all 119 pages, is linked here. The projects' reports were published by Oxford Press in 2014.  gini-research.org/system/uploads/443/original/US.pdf?1370077377

Help us get the word out. Like our Facebook page and tell your friends, too.  And look for our book, Screwnomics: How Our Economy Works Against Women and Real Ways to Make Lasting Change, out in bookstores, April 2018.