Working Mom Top Fears

In July we chewed on issues raised by the AFL-CIO's Ask A Working Woman survey. Many of you, along with 26,000 other working women, took the online questionnaire from June through mid-August. You can now take a look at the survey results.

Before delving into the numbers, a few caveats. Respondents skew older than the average population: 65 percent are age 40 and over. Only 20 percent have children younger than 18 living with them; in the general population more than 70 percent of working moms have children under age 18. And respondents are largely (84 percent) white. But even with these disclaimers it's woth listening to 26,000 women.

"Pay" (wages, salary, paycheck) is the most frequently cited concern. Affordable health care, retirement security, and equal rights also top the list of concerns for women who responded to the survey. Other worries are discrimination on the job, finding and keeping jobs with good benefits, child care, equal pay for women, control over work hours, and paid family and medical leaves. Hispanic and Asian Americans are somewhat more concerned about child care than African American and white women. Overall, only 44 percent of working women report they receive equal pay vs. men for equal work done; only 41 percent say they have control over their work hours; 37 percent receive paid family and medical leave, and a tiny 4 percent report their employers offering any form of child care for working parents.

It's the nature of parenthood that we all suffer from tunnel vision. Most of us are so busy rushing to work to kids to the kitchen to make dinner, it's hard to know much about how other women in different parts of the country, at higher and lower income levels and different ages, are fairing. This survey gives us a snapshot of our peers. The survey administrators put the news grimly: "Working women are very, very afraid." One respondent is quoted: "Most of us are one negative event away from poverty." Another mom protests: "We are the backbone of this country, in our families and workplaces...a growing voice in government and deserving of fairness and equity."

In some ways, it's comforting to see that we are not alone in our worries. But this survey also makes me step back and ask: If so many women share these disturbing concerns, why isn't more being done by our government and our elected politicans to fix these fixable problems? Maybe we will soon see. Across age, race and education levels, the survey respondents share two characteristics: 96 percent are registered to vote and 96 percent say they will vote in November's elections.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 18, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Research
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If only we could get the rest of the country to vote in those numbers, maybe we could see some real change for everyone.

Posted by: PunditMom | September 18, 2006 7:55 AM

Obviously I'm not a working woman, but my wife's primary fear about her career is the unpredictability. She was laid off from work several years ago and it came completely out of the blue. Her boss called her into the office that morning, handed her the letter, and informed her she had until lunch to get out of the building with all her stuff.

It took her more than two years to find a permanent job after that, and while her current job is going great, I know she constantly worries that one day they will either find someone better to replace her, or that the economy will collapse and the business she works for will have to downsize and let her go again.

I keep telling her she has developed valuable skills that other companies would line up to hire her for if the worst case scenario happened, but I'm not sure she completely believes it. Once we have a child I think she will be even more worried about keeping that job!

Posted by: John | September 18, 2006 8:18 AM

I'm with you, pundit mom. The thing is, though, that the report is written in so slanted a way (even for me, a woman who can no longer even hear the sound of GWB's idiot voice without cringing) that it will turn off all but Democrats (who would vote like we want them to anyway -- who will vote to save this country).

Posted by: Thought | September 18, 2006 8:20 AM

Easy answer: government has evolved to protect industry; the USA is not a family-centric society.

duh.

Here's something you should try, at the end of this 109th congress, why don't you take a look at all the new legislation passed and see what percentage actually benefits or protects the family, working moms, or anything else related. Heck, do this for any session of congress in the last 10 years. I bet you'll find that consistently, America's leaders mostly choose to protect industry above the family.

And then, give me a reason to think why this will change...

Posted by: Fo1 | September 18, 2006 8:22 AM

Leslie,

Please do not report on this like the results are at all scientific. No matter the sample size, opt-in surveys can never be projected to represent anything other than the opinions of those who responded. Period.

Posted by: VAMom | September 18, 2006 8:30 AM

From the AP Stylebook on reporting on survey results:
"Only a poll based on a scientific, random sample of a population - in which every member of the population has a known probability of inclusion - can be used as a reliable and accurate measure of that population's opinions. Polls based on submissions to Web sites or calls to 900 numbers may be good entertainment but have no validity. They should be avoided because the opinions come from people who select themselves to participate. If such unscientific pseudo-polls are reported for entertainment value, they must never be portrayed as accurately reflecting public opinion and their failings must be highlighted."

For more information see the Web site for journalists and polling produced by AAPOR, the American Association for Public Opinion Research:
http://www.aapor.org/default.asp?page=journalist_resources/journalist_resources

Posted by: VAMom | September 18, 2006 8:37 AM

Um, did you miss the part where Leslie talked about the respondants being skewed when compared to the population as a whole? She didn't report like these results were scientific. She acknowledged the caveats and then characterized the results. Nothing irresponsable about that.

Posted by: To VAMom | September 18, 2006 8:56 AM

Um, did you miss the part where Leslie talked about the respondents being skewed when compared to the population as a whole? She didn't report like these results were scientific. She acknowledged the caveats and then characterized the results. Nothing irresponsible about that.

Posted by: To VAMom | September 18, 2006 8:57 AM

"But this survey also makes me step back and ask: If so many women share these disturbing concerns, why isn't more being done by our government and our elected politicans to fix these fixable problems?"

Perhaps the more germane question is: "why aren't women doing more to fix these fixable problems?"

How many of those women currently being exploited are getting involved in visible political action?

How many are promoting workplace gender fairness, versus throwing up roadblocks to other females in the workplace? Male colleagues LOVE that.

How many still patronize products whose marketing emphasizes female-as-display; further weakening any potential professional authority.

How many patronize films whose writing and casting emphasize the same?

Government "solutions" aren't going to happen from above.

Posted by: Solange | September 18, 2006 9:05 AM

WRITE SOME LETTERS! Tell your members of Congress what you think. This is lobbying at its finest: let your legislators know that flexibility, benefits etc for working parents is more important to you than almost anything else.
Organize your friends and family members to contribute to letter-writing campaigns. Make an appointment with your member, either in his or her DC office, or at the closest district office. The members will be in their home districts for the entire month of October; sure, they'll be campaigning a lot, but they will also be taking time to meet with their constituents.
Of course, those of us who live in Washington DC don't have this option-- no representation for us.
But you readers from MD, VA and further afield could do a world of good by sending a letter every six months to each of your members of Congress. It can even be the same letter. If you really want to go hard-core, start paying attention to the legislation currently under consideration, and time your letters, calls and appointments to coincide with the votes on these bills. (I bet that someone in blogland knows of an organization which exists to follow this legislation, and lobby the government specifically on the behalf of working families; join it.)
I work for a lobbying firm, and I can vouch for the effectiveness of a sustained advocacy campaign. If you really care, you CAN make a difference to the lives of working parents.

Posted by: WDC | September 18, 2006 10:18 AM

Scientific or not, the results of this survey don't speak very loudly to me - mainly because the three top concerns of the women who responded(pay, healthcare, retirement) are probably the three top concerns of *men*. I know they top my husband's list, along with "finding and keeping jobs with good benefits" and "control over work hours."

This isn't a women's issue - it's a worker's issue.

Posted by: momof4 | September 18, 2006 10:18 AM

I would love to know how these women know that they're not making equal pay for the work that they do. Did these women take a workplace poll before answering the survey? I have a feeling that response is due largely conjecture and/or a persecution complex and/or very bad, stereotyped data and out-dated assumptions.

Posted by: MSL | September 18, 2006 10:24 AM

Hear, hear, momof4! (or is that Here, here?) I just told my wife yesterday that the biggest fear of coming back from vacation for me is that I will walk in and they will tell me I no longer have a job.

Another question I have is how do the women know that they are making less than their male counterparts? I'm not saying it is not true, but I have no idea what my female counterparts are making. That is not a topic that you should readily discuss at the workplace. Maybe they have filled out one of those job surveys and found out that they are making less than the "average".

Posted by: Working Dad | September 18, 2006 10:28 AM

I go with momof4. It's not women's issues, it's worker issues.

Men AND women need to stick together on these issues. If we split them off as women's issues our voice is diminished.

Posted by: roseg | September 18, 2006 10:30 AM

To MSL: I think you are right in questioning whether women are paid less than men for the same job. I know in the government it's not so, and I'd be surprised to find it's the case at the company I work for now. Mrs. Do2 does make less than I do, but she has chosen to work in the non-profit sector and she works part-time. If she were employed in the profit-making arena doing what she does (directing a major program for her company) I have no doubt she would make more than I do.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | September 18, 2006 10:32 AM

Leslie, are these the fixable problems we need govt to solve?
"44 percent of working women report they receive equal pay vs. men for equal work done; only 41 percent say they have control over their work hours; 37 percent receive paid family and medical leave, and a tiny 4 percent report their employers offering any form of child care for working parents."

We absolutely need govt to create more laws and ENFORCEMENT to ensure equal pay for equal work. Create a new division in the labor dept to audit every single company to ensure equal pay for women.
Pay for it with higher corporate taxes.

Next, pass a law giving women absolute control over their work hours. Any employer violating that will be subject to fines. Again, need to create a special bureau to handle such complaints.

Then we'll need more government to fix the lack of family and medical leave and child care. I don't know what the solution could be, but perhaps more taxes and more laws.

I really hope Hillary will run and I will certainly vote for her to solve all these problems. I need government to save me from being one negative event away from poverty.

The government needs to secure more benefits for working women.

Posted by: WorkerBee | September 18, 2006 10:32 AM

I am one of those working moms with the same concerns that Leslie has identified in her contribution today. IMHO I fail to see how the gov't is going to help me. Take the FMLA -- yes, I can take 3 months (without pay) for a maternity leave and my job has to be open to me for at least 6 months after I come back from maternity leave. But, employers have a VERY CREATIVE way of meeting this condition. I think that the solution to my fears depends on my ability to find a right company with a right job description and prove to my bosses that I deserve flex time/telework/etc. Only then I know it will be tailored to my needs and not some one size fit all government program. And before you start writing letters to your Senators/Representatives find out how many working mothers are there on the Hill and how many of them are able to have work-family balance in their own jobs. Many working women actually end up leaving the Hill, willingly or not.

Posted by: been there done that | September 18, 2006 10:39 AM

"WRITE SOME LETTERS! Tell your members of Congress what you think. This is lobbying at its finest: let your legislators know that flexibility, benefits etc for working parents is more important to you than almost anything else. "

Why is it the governments responsibility to regulate flexibility in the workplace? Why should the federal gov't legislate working conditions in private industry? Do we not have a free market?

Posted by: Question to WDC | September 18, 2006 10:40 AM

Working Dad --

You noted that salary "is not a topic that you should readily discuss at the workplace."

Why not?

Yes, the old thinking is that it's impolitic to share salary info w/ coworkers. But isn't that precisely the kind of behavior that keeps us all in the dark?

Management already holds all the cards in workplace policy issues. Why offer up your deafness and muteness, as well?

Posted by: pittypat | September 18, 2006 10:45 AM

While I agree with most points that workerbee makes,this goes too far:

"Next, pass a law giving women absolute control over their work hours. Any employer violating that will be subject to fines. Again, need to create a special bureau to handle such complaints"

Yeah, I'd like to have absolute conrtol over my work hours too--I'd come in at 10 and be gone by 2:30. Would I have a great work/life balance? Yes! Would I have a job for long? No--because my company would probably go under. While I agree that legislation too often favors business, we do need industry to keep moving and part of that means stabndardized hours with some flexibility.

Posted by: reston | September 18, 2006 10:45 AM

This is a very interesting blog. One thing I wanted to point out to PittyPat, though, who suggested discussing salary with co-workers, is that I suspect many companies have a policy forbidding people to have such discussions. In my last two firms, it was grounds for dismissal.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 18, 2006 10:51 AM

As I have said before on this topic. I have seen very few male co-workers act out against women at my company.

On the other hand, women, either childless or with grown children, are sometimes "work/life/balance" worst enemy for everyone, not just parents. I don't think it is fair to say that men enjoy when other women put up road blocks to a working mother's success. Just like all women don't throw up road blocks.

I think that that could, in fact, fall under the sexism umbrella that women fight so hard to get out from under. If you want to say some men in my office or some men in general that's great, but I don't think it is fair to over generalize. I have a great boss and work with some very nice male co-workers.

Posted by: scarry | September 18, 2006 10:52 AM

for me the most compelling parts of the AFL-CIO paper are the quotes from women interspersed with the statistics. They are wrenching and truly tragic: as the one from the widow who lost much of her livelyhood after caring for her husband until his death. She says, that she is a poor widow and asks if we want our most beloved women to have to go through an end of life like her.

I wonder that given these fundamental conflicts between family life and corporate economics, not more people are able to verbalize what causes them pain.

Posted by: also worried | September 18, 2006 10:52 AM

Your post is good in theory, but in the real world it would only benefit very few working women. Factory lines have to run, doctors have to be on call, and teachers have to teach. The country has to keep going on some kind of a schedule, if not; I have to say that it would be anarchy!

If my kids' teacher said "you know I only feel like teaching half a day today, can you come get them at noon." How am I supposed to do my job? I love your idea, but I just don't think it can work.

Posted by: scarry | September 18, 2006 10:56 AM

Yes, I did see Leslie's caveat, but it's not sufficient. You'll note she also said, "But even with these disclaimers it's worth listening to 26,000 women," and then went on to talk about a lot of percentages and imply that the results still mean something. They don't. These results tell us nothing about the opinions of "working women." They tell us a lot about the opinions of working women who heard about this study and took part in it, and these two audiences are not the same.

You'll also note that, even with the caveat, Leslie talks about this for its news value, not its entertainment value. This is counter to the AP style guide on how to handle non-scientific poll results like these.

Posted by: VAMom | September 18, 2006 10:56 AM

my post was to worker bee :)

Posted by: scarry | September 18, 2006 10:58 AM

"Why is it the governments responsibility to regulate flexibility in the workplace? Why should the federal gov't legislate working conditions in private industry? Do we not have a free market?"

Indeed, but you can also think of our government as a free market. The will of the majority is king, and any candidate not making the majority happy is history at the next election. Just like a business.

So just as we "vote with our dollars" (or should) by only patronizing business that conform to our values, we should treat our government as responsible to us and our needs. (Funny that I'm using a voting metaphor to describe what should be voter behavior.)

Anyway, I offer the lobbying idea as one solution to the problem, as an activity that cannot hurt anyone, and could have a huge positive impact. However, as anyone who spends any time on the internet knows, many folks would rather spend an hour complaining and tearing down other people's ideas, than spend ten minutes taking a stab at a solution.

Posted by: WDC | September 18, 2006 11:02 AM

Oh, and OF COURSE we don't have a free market. If we did, we could send our 8-year-olds to work in factories (and factories would be allowed to hire them) and all the airlines would have gone belly-up after 9-11.

Our government is all about worker protection and market regulation. It's your responsibility to make sure that you're protected.

Posted by: WDC | September 18, 2006 11:10 AM

"Next, pass a law giving women absolute control over their work hours." Does anyone, outside of CEOs maybe, have this kind of control? Is this realistic?

"Then we'll need more government to fix the lack of family and medical leave and child care." "More Taxes, More laws"

Is this a joke?

Posted by: Are U Serious | September 18, 2006 11:12 AM

To Working Mom X --

You said: "One thing I wanted to point out to PittyPat, though, who suggested discussing salary with co-workers, is that I suspect many companies have a policy forbidding people to have such discussions. In my last two firms, it was grounds for dismissal."

Yes, I thought about that. But it seems to me that employers banning the discussion of salaries may be on pretty shaky ground nowadays. While incoming employees can be made to sign confidentiality agreements regarding research and development, intellectual property, etc., I'm not persuaded that their position on salary discussion is legally defensible.

Can private employers regulate employees' discussion of terms of employment where the employees have not specifically signed an agreement not to do so? Or does the First Amendment trump employers' ability to do that? Is the First Amendment argument usable here?

Posted by: pittypat | September 18, 2006 11:13 AM

"However, as anyone who spends any time on the internet knows, many folks would rather spend an hour complaining and tearing down other people's ideas, than spend ten minutes taking a stab at a solution."

While I might not agree with your post I have to agree on the quote above! Stab away - healthy discussion is always positive.

Posted by: to wdc | September 18, 2006 11:14 AM

"However, as anyone who spends any time on the internet knows, many folks would rather spend an hour complaining and tearing down other people's ideas, than spend ten minutes taking a stab at a solution."

Since when is debating an issue and poking holes in an idea tearing other people ideas down. George Bush has lots of ideas and thank God someone tries to poke hole in them and tear them down!

Posted by: ? | September 18, 2006 11:19 AM

Wow...everyone's fears here are far different from mine. I'm not a mom yet, but I will be, and I will be working in a male-dominated field. My greatest fear is not being taken seriously in the workplace. I guess that concern is somewhat addressed through equal pay concerns, but I am more concerned with having a voice in my future workplace and some equality, rather than being seen as just another working mother who could take time off if she really wanted to to raise her kids. I don't like the idea of being blown off as insignificant simply because I will have kids, am a biologist instead of an engineer, and am a woman.

Any other female patent lawyers out there who can give me an inside look at the environment of their firms? I would greatly appreciate it. I am looking forward to my career with great enthusiasm and would like to have as much balance in my life as possible. Thanks! :-)

Posted by: Mona | September 18, 2006 11:34 AM

The First Amendment says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

This does not mean that a private business may not have rules that prohibit employees from discussing their salaries. There is no First Amendment protection there because private employers are not government. In the Federal Government, we all know what our coworkers make. I do think that it is good (for workers) when this information is out in the open.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2006 11:38 AM

I took WDC's comments to mean the civility and tone of the discussion and not putting forth a contribution to the discussion, just being a negative factor.

I am all for an open discussion and exchange of ideas.

One question though - why was the derogatory comment about GWB necessary to prove your point? Seems to be a trend on this board.

Posted by: to ? | September 18, 2006 11:40 AM

I agree with some of the posters. Those top concerns are concerns for all workers. I work for the government, so pay is the same for both men and women in the same grade pay scale. But I can believe it is different in industry. Even between the genders, I think person A (male) maybe paid less then person B (male) for the same job quality. It is the secrecy and the ability to get away with it in industry. As long as you can negotiate your salary, there will be descrepencies. Personally, I think it stinks. That is one reason I work for government. Just a short personal story here, I did work with one male coworker who was troubled that there were so many women in management at our agency. His reasoning was men really needed those promotions to support their families where women just took promotions for the fun of it. So this is one guy but it leads you to believe there are still some really backward thinking people out there. Like it was women's fault for the fact that some men can not adequately support their families. Really scary in 2006.

Posted by: Lieu | September 18, 2006 11:43 AM

Workplace rules that forbid discussing salaries can be hard to uphold in court. I don't have time to do the legal research right now, but I do remember discussing this with labor&employment lawyer friends and I remember them saying that these policies deter workers from discussing salaries, but that they are not as ironclad as employees might think.

(Keep in mind the motivations behind such policies - historically, it was frequently to keep women from learning they were earning less than men.)

Posted by: Discussing Salaries | September 18, 2006 11:52 AM

Biggest workplace fear: getting laid off. I don't have a husband that helps support the household, so it's not like we could adjust to live on one salary (and there is the issue of health insurance). I guess it's on my mind because I've had four friends recently go through periods of unemployment, all for different reasons. Two of the four were fathers with SAH wives, so it was not an option for those families to live on one salary.

Job insecurity is probably more common among ALL workers than most of us realize...

Posted by: single western mom | September 18, 2006 12:05 PM

off topic, but I've been wondering.

Single Western mom, Isn't there some way the the government can make your ex husband pay some child support. It seems really unfair to me that just because someone moves to another country that they can get away with not taking care of their child?

Posted by: scarry | September 18, 2006 12:23 PM

Of course the first amendment applies.

Dismissing a worker for discussing his/her salary (internally) is no different from dismissing an employee for discussing Seinfeld or brussel sprouts.

If employees were discussing their salaries with external entities, one of GWBush's federal judges might be inclined to rule that this is a corporate or trade secret. But internally, of course it's legal.

If your employer has dismissed you for internal discussions anything not explicitly classified or corporate IP, you would have cause of action....

Posted by: To Pittypat | September 18, 2006 12:42 PM

The issue regarding talking about salaries with fellow employees, even if it were permitted, is huge. I don't want to find out that I make less than someone else and they don't want to find out that they make less than me. Hard feelings all around.

Posted by: Rockville | September 18, 2006 12:56 PM

Scarry:

If our government gets hold of my ex-husband, they will want about five years of back taxes...child support will take a back seat. I sometimes smile at the irony of the fact my ex-husband lives in a former penal colony...and it's not likely that he will return any time soon.

You are right: it's not fair. Last year, Congress appropriated some $2 Billion (yes, with a "b") to state programs that track down deadbeat parents. For Congress to spend more money on tracking down deadbeat parents than on grant assistance to local law enforcement (less than half a billion), that's an indicator of how pervasive this problem is.

Most of these children live at or below the poverty line. My daughter is fortunate that I am able to earn a decent living and provide a middle class standard of living. That's not the case for so many children in households headed by single mothers.

Posted by: single western mom | September 18, 2006 12:56 PM

You should be very proud of yourself. I am happy for your daughter. I'm sure she is proud of you also.

Posted by: to single western mom | September 18, 2006 1:08 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/18/science/19womencnd.html?hp&ex=1158638400&en=2a2bbdfc2bad012c&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Posted by: The original just a thought | September 18, 2006 1:15 PM

Of course the first amendment applies.

Dismissing a worker for discussing his/her salary (internally) is no different from dismissing an employee for discussing Seinfeld or brussel sprouts.

If employees were discussing their salaries with external entities, one of GWBush's federal judges might be inclined to rule that this is a corporate or trade secret. But internally, of course it's legal.

If your employer has dismissed you for internal discussions anything not explicitly classified or corporate IP, you would have cause of action....

Posted by: To Pittypat | September 18, 2006 12:42 PM

But they can dismiss you for discussing Seinfeld and Brussel sprouts. Unless you are under contract, employers don't need cause to terminate you. They often make sure there is cause in case you sue them later, not because they needed it in the first place.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2006 1:17 PM

That's awful single western mom! Thank goodness she has you. I cannot even imagine my husband now or if he was an ex not wanting to take care of our daughter. It's a shame.

Posted by: scarry | September 18, 2006 1:18 PM

Rockville,

When you say, "I don't want to find out that I make less than someone else and they don't want to find out that they make less than me. Hard feelings all around" --

do you mean that you don't want to know on the "what I don't know can't hurt me" theory or you don't want to know because, if you did, you'd want to take it to management to be rectified?

The hard feelings issue is a big one. But if we're squeamish about sharing this vital information, then aren't we really playing into management's hands?

Posted by: pittypat | September 18, 2006 1:23 PM

Employers cannot ban discussion of salaries.

http://www.dlapiper.com/files/upload/Emp_050801.htm

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2006 1:25 PM

"I don't want to find out that I make less than someone else and they don't want to find out that they make less than me. Hard feelings all around."

And thus the secrecy and fear of discussion continues.

If you work for a union, you usually know your co-workers salary.

Posted by: A.M. | September 18, 2006 1:26 PM

To the earlier poster inquiring as to the role of government in regulating private businesses, no, we absolutely do not have a free market and it's a good thing because idealized "perfect markets" rarely exist outside of economic theory. In real world markets, there may be various barriers to a market functioning properly (e.g. barriers to market entry due to monopoly conditions) or perverse incentives that make it function to the detriment of society (e.g. pollution not being factored into profit calculations because it is "cost free"). So governments intervene ALL THE TIME to correct market failures and regulate markets based on social norms (e.g. outlawing child labor).

Moreover, firms, though theoretically profit maximizing, don't always do what's best for them in the long run because they're just focused on the current quarter. In the past, firms routinely failed to recruite the best and brightest regardless of race or sex because of the social prejudices of managers. A contemporary example: the New York Times reports that Wall Street firms today are losing female middle managers (that they spent years and a lot of money to train) in droves because they haven't come up with an effective work/life balance options that allow these women to keep contributing their significant human capital. These firms are clearly shooting themselves in the foot, but no one wants to be the first mover in changing the system because an investment this quarter in more maternity leave, part-time arrangments, telecommuting, etc. only shows up on the balance sheet as lower recruiting costs and higher lifetime productivity many quarters or years down the road. Unless all firms are required to make changes at once, no one wants to put themselves at a relative disadvantage by being the first to change.

Believe it or not, the government is indeed capable of coming up with effective public policy to address social and economic concerns-- for all the complaints regarding litigation, OSHA, the Clean Air Act, Superfund cleanups, and other such regulatory acts have significantly improved the lives and well being of American workers and the citizenry as a whole. Do you want to live in a world without such policy? Read a Charles Dickens novel or better yet visit a factory town in India or China. I have, and believe me, once you've seen workers wearing no shirts, no hard-hats and no protective gear of any kind working in the bowels of 50's era steel factory that belches out pollution such that the whole town (and its people, and the 6 to a room worker dorms and the Kindergarten a mile down the road) are covered in grime (one day in Shenyang and a Q-tip will emerge from your ear covered in black soot!) it'll make you appreciate the high quality of US public policy crafted in democratic and (relatively) transparent political system like nothing else!

Posted by: JKR | September 18, 2006 1:30 PM

>>But they can dismiss you for discussing Seinfeld and Brussel sprouts. Unless you are under contract, employers don't need cause to terminate you. They often make sure there is cause in case you sue them later, not because they needed it in the first place.>>

Sure, but we would have to not consider the scenario where the employer already had cause and was looking for a litigation-proof trigger to dismiss someone. "Prohibited speech" could certainly be that trigger, but like you said, in an at-will state, the trigger isn't actually necessary.

The point though, is that firing someone for something they said that is neither dangerous nor secret opens the employer up to litigation that most employers would not want. An employer can fire you (in a corporation-friendly employment-at-will state like Virginia) for merely breathing their air. But, you can certainly sue them.

Now, if they decided not to fire you but to give you a "lay off", things get complicated...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2006 1:33 PM

More government is the fool's solution to everyday problems.

Posted by: Rufus | September 18, 2006 1:43 PM

Re: the pay gap between women and men, I wonder if a contributing factor is that women are less likely to negotiate for salary (at least this is what I learned in my grad school salary negotiation workshop). A firm will pay as little as it can get away with-- if you don't ask for more, you can't get more. But many women fail to ask at all or ask for too little... wonder how much this contributes to the overall gap.

(Here is a negotiation presentation from Prof. Holly Schroth, of the Haas biz school at UC Berkeley, who taught my grad school workshop: http://www.wilconference.org/2006/Seminar-WIL06.ppt#257,1,Negotiating in Daily Life)

Posted by: JKR | September 18, 2006 1:46 PM

Totally Off-Topic:

After Father of 4's comments about summer homework triggered so much discussion, I thought some of you might find the following column from Slate about whether homework in elementary school does any good (or possibly bad):

http://www.slate.com/id/2149593/nav/tap1/

Posted by: Megan | September 18, 2006 1:54 PM

Hey Rufus!

Glad to hear you're willing to give up your government protections. Now, when you're laid off, fired, downsized, outsourced, you and your kids will live on fresh air alone while you're looking for a new job. No unemployment benefits for you!

And when your working spouse is killed in a car accident (because speed limits, drunk driving laws, and stoplights will have been taken away) you don't need to get back any of that social security money you've paid into the system.

And she had racked up a lot of it, since she went back to work on the Monday after giving birth each time. But hey, you saved all that money on day care by leaving your infant home alone, since there's no child services to tell you that you can't do that. What's the big deal? She raced home on her lunch-half-hour every day, right? While you were at Morton's with the boys from Accounting?

Oh, and health care? Forget about it! If you think pharmeceutical costs are high now, wait til you see what happens when the government takes the regulations away! Not only will the stuff be more expensive, it'll be less pure, less reliable, and our doctors will be less educated about its efficacy. Not only won't they know what it really does, they won't know what will cure you. The studies that would have produced that data never would have happened.

But it's all good, because at least you're not a fool!

Posted by: To Rufus | September 18, 2006 1:56 PM

Real fools like more government and less taxes (therefore greater debt to pass on to our children). Sounds like our current administration.

Posted by: Another to Rufus | September 18, 2006 2:02 PM

"the original just a thought's" NY Times article was interesting.

My thought in response:
Many on this board have noted that other women have been the least supportive and flexible in the workplace. For me, that was the case in academia. As a math major at, I got the impression from all but one male professor that they really WANTED me to succeed. My most biased professor was a women who taught a computer science class. She accused me of cheating (by falsifying results) on a program because my results were "too good". I was stunned. I simply handed her a disk and asked her to run the program to verify the results I turned in. She eventually awarded me an A. She stuck my results in the middle of a stack of quizzes she was returning so as to avoid speaking with me. She never apologized or congratulated me on the "too good" to believe results of my hard work. Although I have my suspicions, I never understood why she was the professor most suspicious of my abilities.

Posted by: hch | September 18, 2006 2:04 PM

Absolutes expressed as simple one liners are the reason we're in such a screwed up political state. How about everyone just thinks for themselves, while expecting that entities that we own (government) and contribute to (industry) take care of us as well as we take care of them?

Posted by: To Rufus | September 18, 2006 2:18 PM

I think *some* of the inequity in pay is that most women I know do not negotiate salaries at all or not very well. Women often do not ask for a raise when they should.

Posted by: alexandria mom | September 18, 2006 2:19 PM

To add to the story from HCH, an anecdote from public policy grad school. A group of women from my class formed a group to discuss issues facing women entering careers in public policy, whether through the civil service, politics, or NGOs. Our perspective was, yes, advances are being made but there are still too few women able to influence the shaping and implementation of public policy at a high level, whether as elected officials, appointed agency heads or major NGO leaders. We asked each of the three female faculty members to come speak to our group to discuss what they percieved to be the causes of this and explore how we as young women embarking on our careers might be able to contribute to a solution. One replied frostily that she had no idea what we were talking about and had no interest whatsoever in meeting us; one said "Come on girls, it's not the 1970's anymore."; and the third, a newly hired, untenured professor who had been cc'd on the responses of the other two didn't respond at all. Granted, we may have been naive to assume that women professors would necessarily be interested in "women's issues", and in retrospect we might've defined a more narrow topic for them to address-- but the harsh, almost angry replies we got were quite puzzling. And this in ultra-liberal Berkeley!

Posted by: JKR | September 18, 2006 2:24 PM

I agree with JKR!

Posted by: alexandria mom | September 18, 2006 2:24 PM

I think Rufus was expressing a sentiment carried by a lot of people that there is over regulation and too much dependence on the federal government for many things in this country. If we look to the federal government for all answers we end up with the nanny state where nobody is even thinking anymore, it is all taken care of by Uncle Sam.

Constitutionally the government's role is to protect us from our foreign enemies, not each other.

This is age-old arguement - what is the government's role in our lives? Belittling someone's belief that limited government is the answer may score you points on this forum, but when you have no more rights due to swelling of the fed gov'ts role in your life - then you have a problem.

Posted by: to jkr | September 18, 2006 2:29 PM

Equal pay issue: it is a well-documented fact that American women make 75c for every dollar American men do.

Posted by: Leslie | September 18, 2006 2:39 PM

OK, since I posted the article, I'll weigh in. The plural of anecdote is still not data. That being said, your anecdotes raise other important questions - most significantly by JKR's experience. I am also in academia, and the women's groups at my graduate school largely keep to themselves and our own gender (I am female). When they are invited to business-focused events, none have ever come in the 2 years I have been here. They ONLY invite women speakers and prefer (something I've heard from most women in the group) their events to be mostly, if not all, attended by females. I think this is counterproductive. If you belong to a women's group, and recognize or believe that implicit bias and male networking reduces women's professional trajectories, then why wouldn't you want to get to know the men that are the decisionmakers? Instead of not coming to business seminars, why don't you come to all seminars and establish yourself as a worthy, employable candidate? I think women would be better served by joining the very "profitable" men's clubs in graduate school (club golf, securities group, etc.) instead of self-segregating and removing themselves from the very networks that could benefit them most later on in life. This isn't to say women's groups have NO value, it is to say they are less valuable, and at times, counterproductive, to joining predominantly male ones.

Posted by: The original just a thought | September 18, 2006 2:40 PM

I'm the one who said 'hard feelings all around'.

I work in an technical area. We all do similar work. But some people's area of expertise is more complex than my area. And other's are less complex than mine. We're not factory works, we're not interchangable. I make a good living and I'm not willing to rock the boat. I did that when I entered engineering school in 1973.

Posted by: Rockville | September 18, 2006 2:44 PM

Someone last week tried to claim that the average hourly wage for women in this country was 9$ - and it was shot down with a quick labor statistic google.

Posted by: to leslie | September 18, 2006 2:46 PM

JKF said that "women are not as likely to negotiate for salaries" but isn't it possible that "fewer women are in a position TO negotiate for salary"?

If I were a single mom solely responsible for supporting my kids, I'd be kind of nervous about telling a potential job offer anything other than "Yes, I will certainly take that job. Just tell me what time you want me there!"

And in my current job, I'm fortunate enough to have flexible hours and a work from home option. And I'm afraid I'm too scared of forfeiting those things to ever REALLY feel like I can ask for too much more (salary, benefits, etc.)

It's gonna sound sexist, but when men tell employers "I need more money. I need to think about it," etc. perhaps it more likely that they need A job more than they need THIS job which is:
1. near a reputable daycare center (or comes with corporate daycare nearby)
2. somewhat more liberal with personal days
3. Offers flextime,
etc. etc. etc.
My husband is in a much better position to negotiate than I am, seeing as he doesn't have to be home by 2:30 every day to meet the schoolbus.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | September 18, 2006 2:55 PM

To 2:29 and Rufus:

What I don't get is this: often the same people people who bemoan government intrusion in our lives and insist that the "nanny state" will leave us entirely without rights are the same people who have no problem with the government deciding to warrantlessly wiretap our phone-calls, video tape our political protests, and unilaterally toss the Geneva convention out of the window under the cloak of "protecting us from our foreign enemies".

So, robbing us of our free speech and due process rights in the name of national security is not a problem, but mandating better maternity/paternity leave (for example) will lead us down the slippery slope toward total government control? Riiight.

But maybe you're right-- all those European men and women enjoying equitable pay, long parental leave, support for part-time work arrangements, and subsidized child care better look out: now that the government has lulled them into a false sense of security, it's just the time to execute their grand conspiracy to destroy democracy and deprive citizens of basic rights! Quick, someone warn the Swedes!

Sorry for the snarkiness...couldn't resist.

Posted by: JKR | September 18, 2006 2:59 PM

First, I agree completely that "the plural of anecdote is still not data." In fact, perhaps the totality of my experience would show that male professors were equally as biased or unsupportive (I thought of two since writing my previous post) - perhaps this event was simply more memorable because I felt betrayed by "one of my own"?

Second, I "the original just a thought" makes an excellent point that women's support groups MAY (not always) turn overly insulated and become counter-productive. My husband and I own a start-up business. We've joined a national networking group with chapters everywhere. He, not I, attends most of the meetings. When we were deciding on a chapter I specifically advised AGAINST joining a local one with a female president and mostly female members. I told my husband that I believed, based on experiences similar to those "the original just a thought" shared, they would be less willing to network with him. I also suspected that their networking would be limited to other female business owners which would, in turn, limit our pool of prospective clients.

Posted by: hch | September 18, 2006 3:01 PM

To HCH - you are completely right. You have no idea how often this happens: "I also suspected that their networking would be limited to other female business owners which would, in turn, limit our pool of prospective clients."

Posted by: the original just a thought | September 18, 2006 3:03 PM

"If I were a single mom solely responsible for supporting my kids, I'd be kind of nervous about telling a potential job offer anything other than "Yes, I will certainly take that job. Just tell me what time you want me there!""

If I were a single mom solely responsible for supporting my kids, I would make it my mission to be as aggressive as I possibly could be about earning more money.

Every single time I have not been aggressive about my salary, I have regretted it bitterly. All around me I see women who take the "I'm just grateful to earn what they'll give me" tack, and I just do not get it. It makes no sense to me.

Posted by: Lizzie | September 18, 2006 3:03 PM

Money and Time

Two most precious resource commodities that make my balance possible. I usually opt for more TIME.

Hitting the sweet spot re money and time is very complex. But economists are busy with their multifactorial equations prognosticating about how the economy is doing.

Instead, I try to say: my children are younger (or teens, or ill, or gearing up for SATs/college aps) now. So, I'll take more time, and less money.

When I can make a lot of money and have NO TIME, for say 6 weeks, I ask everyone to help out while I chase filthy lucre. (Pizza party each Friday and Cheerios with fruit for dinner. Dusty house and long grass, too.)

The freelance-consulting-contractual world makes it possible to keep the time-money balance sliding back and forth.

But I did do this for a number of years with part-time work.

I know this way of working figures into salary calculations, re male and female workers, in the economy but am not sure how.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 18, 2006 3:17 PM

Equal pay issue: it is a well-documented fact that American women make 75c for every dollar American men do.

Posted by: Leslie | September 18, 2006 02:39 PM


Leslie, you have heard the chatters for far too long to believe we would be satisfied with a simple answer like that. What's behind the numbers: what are positions, education required, hours worked, hazard, etc.? And as far as "well-documented," it's best to pass along citations and sources when making those claims.

Posted by: wash | September 18, 2006 3:21 PM

Unless you are a suspected terrorist making phone calls into this country - your phone lines will not be wiretapped. As for the Geneva convention - a 55 year old multi-national agreement that did not even envision the terrorists we are currently fighting, may need a little updating, but that is not even what the admin is proposing. Terrorists are not soldiers in the Geneva Convention definition - they wear no uniform and represent no country. We are already providing them with the same rights as soldiers - which in my opinion is wrong - but so it is.

As for Europe - good for the Swedes! Are they an economic powerhouse? What have the Swedes come up with in the last 100 years that is making them a place people flock to for freedom and prosperity? Who does Europe depend on when they are in a Pickle? Sweden? Despite your obvious disdain for this country there are thousands flocking here (illegally and legalley) to obtain the American Dream. Tony Blair wrote a great peice on the downfalls of anti-americanism in Europe - perhaps you should read it. We lead the world in every economic category and enjoy incredible freedoms not found in other countries. Hey - but don't worry - they won't be around too long with everone crying for one more hand out.

Also - who is robbing you of your freedom of speech? Because political rallies are taped there is an infringement on your rights? It is public speech - if I want to tape you when you are preaching on the streets nothing can stop me. If the KKK wants to march down Penn Ave they have every right to do so - I may not like it - but they do.

One last thing - your post on the Berkely women professors telling you to take a hike - perhaps they know a extremist when they see one - sounds like you are a bit extreme for even them.

Posted by: to jkr | September 18, 2006 3:22 PM

"Every single time I have not been aggressive about my salary, I have regretted it bitterly. All around me I see women who take the "I'm just grateful to earn what they'll give me" tack, and I just do not get it. It makes no sense to me."

I am totally with you on this, Lizzie. Not negotiating on salary is a mistake I made once, and will never make again. The consequences are too much - once you accept a low starting salary, it's much harder to get a raise that lifts you up to where you should be. The time to negotiate is before you start. For what it's worth, the three times I've negotiated salary since then, it's never resulted in them revoking an offer or some other horrible consequence(even when my request was apparently way high once); instead, it's let me feel like I'm earning what I deserve (within range, of course)

Posted by: Megan | September 18, 2006 3:25 PM

actually jkr, you should check the immagration stats for a country like sweden. no they're not like the usa but they're not nearly as bad as you claim. i spoke with a jamacian woman in stockholm who used her status as a member of the british commonwealth to go to britian. as soon as she became a british citizen she qualified as a member of the europen union & immigrated to sweden also a eu member because of their great social services. perhaps the swedes don't aspire to become a "powerhouse". did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, they weighed the cost/benefit of being a powerhouse & decided "no thanks". sort of the way some women (and men too) decide that after trying to have it all they don't want to be a "powerhouse" either.

Posted by: quark | September 18, 2006 3:42 PM

You are arguing from the specific to the general - like most people do. Just because you know 1 person that went to Sweden for the handouts isn't really an indicator of anything. If I wanted to live off the public dole I would certainly move to Europe - Ireland has quite a system where I could pub it every day and at the end of the week get paid to do the same the next week.

Thankfully this country is not that bad, we have people who LOVE to work here - which is whole other set of problems.

Not my cup of tea.

Posted by: to quark | September 18, 2006 3:47 PM

"Unless you are a suspected terrorist making phone calls into this country - your phone lines will not be wiretapped"

Not true. Without a warrant process, the government doesn't have to prove to anyone that I'm a terrorist, or even present evidence that they think I might be, in order to wiretap me-- it's entirely at their discretion. Doesn't that provoke your sense of suspicion of the gov't?

"We lead the world in every economic category and enjoy incredible freedoms not found in other countries."

Not true. Standard of living and infant mortality rates (considered an indicator of development), to name two, are better in some European countries. And there are other free countries-- we're not the only one.

And, p.s., for the 1000th time, wanting America to improve or suggesting America is less than perfect does not make one anti-American.

But why quibble about little things like facts-- I invited vitriol by releasing my snark. I consider myself duly chastized for initiating the sarcasm in the first place. C'est la guerre.

Posted by: JKR | September 18, 2006 3:47 PM

Okay, so why do you have to bring alcohol when you discuss the Irish. Many countries including here have people who don't work and drink.

Posted by: to to quark | September 18, 2006 3:50 PM

I agree that people should get equal pay for equal work. Male manager of department Y at company X has same pay as woman manager of department Y at company X. But that doesn't mean that men as a whole will earn the same as women as a whole. At least, not until there are equal numbers of men and women in all industries at all levels.

Posted by: 75 cents on the dollar | September 18, 2006 4:00 PM

isn't it interesting that you assume that she was on the dole. actually, she had a job and she worked hard but she still liked the social services. there are other social service besides welfare; health care & child care being two. i was just showing that your rather sweeping generalities were contradicted by 1 specific.

Posted by: quark | September 18, 2006 4:01 PM

The government can NOT wiretap you - susie smith from Iowa - without a warrant. If you are receiving calls from third world country from a suspected terrorist then they will tap the line they are calling. If you have terrorists calling - tell them to stop.

Who said wanting to improve our country or criticzing it was anti-american? It sounded like you were pretty fed up with the good ole USA and were ready to move to Sweden for a more relaxed lifestyle. I criticize our country constantly and you and I are probably on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Infant Mortality rate aside (I just don't know much about it) I guess you'd have to look at WHO is rating the quality of living to make an assessment and what is their criteria. If it is France or the UN - I'd have my suspicions. We have to have the highest per capita income.

PS - Your saying so doesn't make anything a "fact." Just thought I'd let you know that. Sounds like you aren't used to being challenged.

Posted by: to jkr | September 18, 2006 4:19 PM

I mentioned the Irish because it is fun to slander them. Just kidding! I am part Irish and I take no offense to the Irish being used as an example in the fashion I did. The Irish are known for their love of the pub.

Posted by: to to quark | September 18, 2006 4:24 PM

JKR --

Don't apologize. You're making perfectly reasonable, rational observations. In fact, you saved me from having to respond to that ridiculous post by "to jkr."

And here's another alarming statistic. In the International Trends in Math and Science proficiency scores for the most recent year charted, 2003, the U.S. ranked 28th in math and 17th in science. For math, the top five countries were, in order from #1, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Belgium. For science, once again, Singapore was #1, followed by Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea, and Bulgaria.

These statistics speak for themselves. The U.S. is doing a lot of things wrong, both on the world stage and domestically.

Those who would have us believe that criticizing our country is unpatriotic are the same people who encourage us to take refuge in our most ignorant notions of what constitutes a great nation.

Posted by: pittypat | September 18, 2006 4:47 PM

I think alexandria mom brought up an excellent point: Women typically do not negotiate their salaries as aggressively.

I work in an all woman office, except for me. My wife brought up this idea that woman are horrible at negotiating pay. I asked my coworkers, and they all sort of confirmed this.

It was interesting that many of them were sort of afraid of the repercussions of demanding more money. Why? Women may require greater leniency from employers when they have children--they'll certainly need some extra time off during pregancy--and feel poorly positioned to make demands. Speaking for myself and my wife, I am able to do many different jobs, both blue collar and white collar, so I have never been afraid of being out of work. My wife is better educated than I, but her skills are extremely narrowly focussed, which limits the number of good jobs she is qualified for.

I tried to compensate by always being the one who takes time off when our son is sick or has some kind of special activity. Or if we have any other kind of household crisis. And I don't give a damn what my boss thinks about it; it must be my knowing that I have a lot to fall back on. So far it has not hurt my bargaining prospects.

Posted by: bkp | September 18, 2006 4:51 PM

It doesn't surprise me that you chimed in, however I LOVE that you brought up MATH AND SCIENCE scores. One thing our government schools are doing is dumbing down our children - I decry the public school system in this country every day. Throwing money at a broken system is not netting us the results we are being promised. The bureacratic union-run public schools are a perfect example of the government intrusion gone wrong!

Thanks!

Posted by: TO PITTYPAT | September 18, 2006 4:52 PM

I wonder how much time you've actually spent in European-style countries, seeing how progressive government policies actually impact day-to-day life... or if all you know, you learned on Fox News TV. I spent just 2 years in Europe, and that was several years ago, but it definitely gave me a lot of insight. There are negatives to their system, yes, but also a lot of positives in terms of overall quality of life. For example, none of the mothers I knew there agonized over the issues we cover in this blog, for sure!

So there are pros and cons to both "our" way and "their" way. We don't have to remake the US into an exact replica of Sweden, but why can't we look at their way and select some of the things that would really make a quality of life difference here? It doesn't have to be all or nothing -- either USA like we've always done it, or able-bodied people on the dole forever like "them."

Why does the mere suggestion of learning from other nations offend you so?

Posted by: to "to JKR" | September 18, 2006 4:58 PM

Anyone who believes that demands for governmental accountability are what's killing this country is not paying attention.

China and India are rising economic powerhouses. We are bogged down in Iraq and I would argue that our public schools are not educating students properly in science and math.

In the future, why will the brilliant Chinese and Indians migrate here to America when they can earn a decent living at home?

Where is our money and attention going now instead? Iraq, with no end in sight.

Wake up, people. If Bill Clinton was doing all these things, you probably would be having a cow right now and howling for his head.

Posted by: Rebecca | September 18, 2006 5:06 PM

I may have come off as offended, but I am not. Whatever Sweden has that can be implemented here by private industry is fine with me. Adding more government programs does not appeal to me. I don't think it is the governments job to make my life more comfortable. If I need to make changes to meet my families challenges and needs I want to work it out on my own, not rely on the government.

The snipe about FoxNews was not a way to start a post in which you want serious answers. If you'd quit watching CNN for a month you'd probably have a better attitude about this country. It ain't that bad!

Posted by: to to to jkr | September 18, 2006 5:13 PM

If Bill Clinton were in office right now and everything was as it is now - you'd be behind him 100%.

As for the brilliant Indian and Chinese - I hope only the best for them. They need to retain their best and brightest in those countries to overcome their incompetent and Communist governments. If the best and brightest Chinese can overcome their government the world will truly prosper.

Posted by: to Rebecca | September 18, 2006 5:18 PM

To JKR, don't try to comment on the Geneva Convention. You know nothing about it or the Law of Armed Conflict. Common Art 3, which the Bush administration wants to tamper with is a simple and clear statement that persons who are no longer taking part in hostilities (including prisoners) are to be treated humanely. Terrorism is not new. It's been around forever. We don't need to change who we are or sacrifice our character as a people to fight terrorists.

Posted by: Melt | September 18, 2006 5:24 PM

To "TO PITTYPAT" --

"One thing our government schools are doing is dumbing down our children."

Another thing our government is doing is dumbing down our citizens. How many more times are you guys going to accept "you'll just have to trust us" as an explanation for why the Bush administration wants to do something but won't explain it? How many more times will you let them get away with hiding behind "secret," "classified," "national security," etc.?

Is it that you prefer to remain in ignorance so that you don't have to take responsibility for anything? Or do you just like the idea of the U.S. running roughshod over the rest of the world?

Posted by: pittypat | September 18, 2006 5:27 PM

Leslie: The title of the survey is "Ask a Working Woman" -- it did not specify 'working mom.' You can be a working woman without being a mom. I also have to juggle a full-time job and long commute on a support staff wage with taking care of a house inside and out, an 8-year-old car, a sick cat, my yard, appliances breaking down, an elderly mother, and family commitments. I do it all without a rich spouse to support me. For instance, one day last year I took off a day to wait for an electrician, a plumber and a phone repairman. The total bills I paid that day were over $600 just for minor repairs to the house.

My biggest fear is that someone will hire a woman to work next to me with a couple kids and I'll have to cover for her when she comes in late from teacher/parent meetings, or stays home with a sick kid, or leaves early to pick up the kids from school/soccer practice/music lesson/weekend with non-custodial parent. Worse, I'll be expected to buy the junk kids are selling for fundraisers AGAIN, like pizza, candy, wrapping paper, candles or flower seeds. All of these have happened more than once. If you're going to have them, stay home and take care of them. Choose your priorities and stop whining.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 18, 2006 5:33 PM

If any of you are interested in talking further about the issues, please take a look at the base site for the survey results: http://www.stirringthepot.org The AFL-CIO and Working America have created this initiative based on the results of the 2006 Ask a Working Woman Survey. On October 10, 2006, women nationwide will come together to discuss the issues that matter to them face-to-face. Women from small towns and big cities, neighbors, co-workers and just acquaintances will gather on this day to talk about issues we care about - the things that keep us up at night and that determine the quality of life for our families and our communities. Just at the time when we really need to have our voices heard, a lot of women have given up on the system. It feels like politicians have tuned us and our issues out, so a lot of us don't even vote. If we don't make our voices heard, nothing's going to change. These dinners - and they don't have to be "dinners" -- are an opportunity to remind our friends and neighbors that we can use the strength of our numbers to make a difference - and we will. Women's voices do matter if we vote and encourage other women to vote too.

Posted by: Meagan | September 18, 2006 5:51 PM

'The government can NOT wiretap you - susie smith from Iowa - without a warrant.'

yes the government can, it's called the Patriot act. have you been paying attention to the news for the last four yeara?

Fairfax is trying to improve math education. But then the parents fuss and scream that the work is too challenging.

Posted by: experienced mom | September 18, 2006 5:53 PM

Childless said
"My biggest fear is that someone will hire a woman to work next to me with a couple kids and I'll have to cover for her when she comes in late from teacher/parent meetings, or stays home with a sick kid, or leaves early to pick up the kids from school/soccer practice/music lesson/weekend with non-custodial parent. Worse, I'll be expected to buy the junk kids are selling for fundraisers AGAIN, like pizza, candy, wrapping paper, candles or flower seeds. All of these have happened more than once. If you're going to have them, stay home and take care of them. Choose your priorities and stop whining."

You have a chip on your shoulder if you are already fearing having a coworker who is a mom, even before it happens. If you feel it is your right to take off a day to wait for the electrician/plumber/phone guy (and I will agree that yes, you have a right to do that), how on earth do you get off judging mothers who need to take off for family reasons? We all make our choices. The fact that you have a life outside work does not diminish anyone else's choices, whether those choices involve children or not. If you don't want to buy gift wrap or candy for a child's fundraising, then just say no. Getting bent out of shape over it is just a foolish waste of energy. I am a working mom and I do not leave my coworkers in a pinch due to family obligations, because I am lucky enough to have good back-up, and because I have a job that is very flexible and I can work from home if I need to. But if any coworker (childless or not) needed coverage in a tight situation, I would be glad to help (and often do), because I know that we are all human and we all need help sometimes, whether or not we have children. Hating mothers in advance because you think that they might inconvenience you in the future says more about you and your bias and poor attitude than it does about any working mom.

Posted by: Rockville | September 18, 2006 6:02 PM

"Indeed, but you can also think of our government as a free market. The will of the majority is king, and any candidate not making the majority happy is history at the next election. Just like a business."

Since when is the will of the majority necessarily king or queen in a free market? Some firms make a profit by selling goods and services to niche markets.

"I am also in academia, and the women's groups at my graduate school largely keep to themselves and our own gender (I am female)."

I know one grad school woman's group that routinely has men at its meetings. The president of the student government attends all extracurricular groups' meetings, including this one. When the prez is male, that means at least one man at each women's group meeting. Meanwhile, the "I'm here for the free pizza" contingent usually has both women and men too.

"actually jkr, you should check the immagration stats for a country like sweden. no they're not like the usa but they're not nearly as bad as you claim."

Also, one big factor in Third World to First World migration actually has nothing to do with present-day economic might. Apparently high schools in ex-colonies often include lessons in the language of whichever nation used to run the place (even if it's not the majority's native language). The UK and France having had more colonies than Sweden led to more Third World students learning English or French than learning Swedish, which results in fewer of those migrants who are educated choosing Sweden than choosing Anglophone or Francophone countries when they think "it's hard to be an immigrant, and even harder if I can't talk to the locals..."

Posted by: Maria | September 18, 2006 6:04 PM

Actually, I lived in Sweden 30 years ago for several years, and still keep up with news about it -- I read 3 Swedish newspapers online every day.

What I did appreciate while I was living there was the universal health care, and I absolutely didn't mind my taxes (very high then) going towards that, as I would not mind to see it here. It also included a two-tier system whereby I could go to a private doctor (which I did on occasion) and pay for it. It worked out fine.

Sweden is struggling with equal rights for women the same as we do here. You will not find women on Boards of major companies, with miniscule exception. There are many fewer women in private legal practice than there are here. There was a new Feminist Party which ran for election yesterday, and according to today's papers, the party won no seats in Parliament, and the federal election went Center-Right. For the most part, so far as I know, women also do not make the same amount of money that men do.

What Sweden has brought to the world is a great deal of technology, including telecommunications, although Finland is the leader in the latter category. Chalmers University in Gothenburg is very active in technology development, and there are many enterpreneurial companies on the southern east coast of Sweden, in the Kalmar area.

Sweden has also, for more than 100 years, honored development and accomplishments from all over the world through its granting of the Nobel Prize, just in case that isn't enough for our snarky poster earlier.

Each country has its issues. The propensity of (mainly) men to want to have the biggest appendage just to strut and prance about who is the king of the hill at any particular moment is self-defeating and is dangerous in a time when saber-rattling and saber-prattling isn't doing anybody any good.

I would suggest that those of you who invoke Sweden without any direct experience with it should excuse yourselves from making a$$es of yourselves.

Ha det så bra emellanåt.

Posted by: sooze | September 18, 2006 6:11 PM

Rockville,

I don't think Childless was "judging mothers who need to take off for family reasons." Her point seemed to be that, as a non-mother, single, working person, she has to take time off to get routine household things done while not having the advantage of another person to share the responsibilities.

Her vehemence about being taken advantage of by working mothers in her office seemed to be coming from some experience(s) she's had. While it's maybe a little over the top to say it's "my biggest fear," she may have a legitimate complaint, depending on the atmosphere of her office environment.

She really didn't seem to be ranting about all working moms -- just the kind who take their childfree coworkers for granted.

Posted by: pittypat | September 18, 2006 6:12 PM

I love it-- "to to to JKR"! Good stuff today. This lively debate is one of the things that makes this country great-- and though there are A LOT of things that concern me about this country, I still think it's still pretty great (no I am not moving to Sweden anytime soon, though I do enjoy the occasional IKEA excursion; besides, if I had no conservatives to tangle with I might die of boredom :-). And as I'm sure "to JKR" would point out, the government has nothing to do with providing this great forum for debate!

Posted by: JKR | September 18, 2006 6:25 PM

She really didn't seem to be ranting about all working moms -- just the kind who take their childfree coworkers for granted.

Posted by: pittypat | September 18, 2006 06:12 PM


I think that given that her "biggest fear" is having a mom for a coworker, she was making some pretty broad assumptions and condemnations of all working moms, followed up by the oh-so-pleasant-and-thoughtful remark, "If you're going to have them, stay home and take care of them. Choose your priorities and stop whining." Her views seem pretty clear to me, and pretty thoughtless.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2006 6:26 PM

"If you don't want to buy gift wrap or candy for a child's fundraising then just say no."

Then, will the parents stop whining and asking me several times to buy the same thing? I buy one thing a year for each co-worker with whom I am close. But there are some people I don't know, so I don't buy anything. (Hey, I only need so much popcorn and wrapping paper). When I say no, they whine how I can't understand because I don't have kids and I should be more supportive. Remind me, we grow up when?

Posted by: Thought | September 18, 2006 6:29 PM

Go Sooze! By the way, I was the first person to mention Sweden (the Swedes actually) in what was meant to be a joke (not about Swedes, about Republicans) but somehow several posters took it seriously and latched onto Sweden as a real-world example (oddly, without any actual facts regarding Sweden being introduced). Thanks for weighing in with some actual Scanadanavian knowledge!

Posted by: JKR | September 18, 2006 6:34 PM

"When I say no, they whine how I can't understand because I don't have kids and I should be more supportive. Remind me, we grow up when?"

Oh man, that's sooo annoying. I have come to completely despise the fundraising crap. Fortunately, the parents that I know are awesome about it - always slightly embarrased when they hand me the form - but it's the door-to-door and on the sidewalk ones I can't stand. I vote for every tax levy for education that's on the ballot, and would take that over the fundraising anyday.

Posted by: Megan | September 18, 2006 6:35 PM

"What Sweden has brought to the world is a great deal of technology, including telecommunications, although Finland is the leader in the latter category."

Good point about tech and Scandinavia. Right now I'm using a Norwegian browser. ;)

Posted by: Maria | September 18, 2006 6:51 PM

funny, I like the door-to-door because I feel like the children are doing the fundraising and not just the parents doing it at work.

Childless by choice - I have children, but I completely respect your viewpoint. People asking is OK, but take 'no' gracefully - don't whine or blame it on the person not understanding because they don't have kids.

If the biggest fear is having moms for co-workers, I would guess that things are going very well for you :-)!!

Posted by: mj | September 18, 2006 6:57 PM

I am 5-6 years from retirement and my biggest fear is that my boss will figure out how much I am "faking it". I have lost my focus and interest in my job and basically am just putting in the time and hoping that I will find new motivation to get me through the next 5 or so years. I just want to hang in long enough to get my pension.

After 30+ years working, I really just want to be retired.

Posted by: mj | September 18, 2006 7:04 PM

You are wrong on the Patriot Act - maybe you have not been paying attention. There is no provision in the Patriot Act that allows any law enforcement agency - federal or local- to TAP YOUR PHONE WITHOUT A JUDGES APPROVAL OR A WARRANT. You can get "Express warrants" and "Sealed warrants" but you still need a judges approval. We have been using these type of warrants in this country for years agianst the mob and drug dealers, but somehow when it applies to terrorists during the Bush administration it is all wrong.

Actually - any President does not really need the Patriot Act - he has the War Power Act.

Please stop perpetuating the myth that we can all be wiretapped without a courts approval - you are breeding hysteria.

Posted by: to experienced mom | September 18, 2006 7:14 PM

I am a parent and I HATE the fundraising. It does fund the PTA but I figured they get enough money from me through my dues and the t-shirts I buy every year. I volunteer my time in my kids class - it is way better than the cheesy gift wrap and candy bars.

Posted by: cmac | September 18, 2006 7:19 PM

You are so ridiculous. I am laughing so hard I can barely type.

Do you know we are at war? I suppose you should be privy to all National Security information? I know you don't trust the Bush Administration - it is actually almost an obsession with you - but even your beloved Bill Clinotn used "National Security" during his many forays into his legal problems, from Whitewater to Bosnia.

I guess on June 6th, 1945 you would have demanded that the President tell ALL americans about the invasion plans of Normandy - I mean - we have a right to know - don't we?

Ps. Why are you using the name Pittypat? It is making me think of the constantly flustered Aunt Pittypat in Gone with the Wind. Sounds just about right - THE YANKEES ARE COMING!!!!!!! THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS RUINING THIS COUNTRY!!!!!

Come on now pitty!

Posted by: to pittypat | September 18, 2006 7:28 PM

My biggest fear is that someone will hire a woman to work next to me with a couple kids and I'll have to cover for her when she comes in late from teacher/parent meetings, or stays home with a sick kid, or leaves early to pick up the kids from school/soccer practice/music lesson/weekend with non-custodial parent. Worse, I'll be expected to buy the junk kids are selling for fundraisers AGAIN, like pizza, candy, wrapping paper, candles or flower seeds. All of these have happened more than once. If you're going to have them, stay home and take care of them. Choose your priorities and stop whining.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 18, 2006 05:33 PM

Anyone who thinks that just getting more women into positions of power will lead to more family-friendly or more flexible policies is just fooling themselves.

Posted by: HMD | September 18, 2006 7:32 PM

Common Art 3 deals with people involved in Civil War - it has nothing to do with international war. When did you practice in the Hague?

Also, the form of terrorism we see today is new. When in history have we seen terrorists like Al Quada? The closest things I can think of is during WWII and the fighting in the Phillipines.

Soldiers put on uniforms, stand up for their beliefs and fight - they do not strap on bombs and blow up women and children. Al Quada is not soldiers, they are not covered under the Geneva convention - despite what John McCain says. He should know better - of all people - shame on him for caving to Political Correctness. Were the Vietnamese who tortured him abiding by the Geneva Convention?

Please do not degrade OUR military by putting them in the same category as terrorists. And stop listening to Air America.

Posted by: to melt | September 18, 2006 7:37 PM

I am not a lawyer but the bit I understand about the patriot act is that it changes what is meant by a warrant...

...In special cases covered by FISA (amended by the USA PATRIOT Act), the warrants may come from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) instead of a common Federal or State Court. FISC warrants are not public record and therefore are not required to be released. Other warrants must be released, especially to the person under investigation...

so there is a warrant, but not the type of warrant obtained on law & order :) Since you are moving power to the executive branch, the issue comes down to whether you trust the secret warrants of the executive branch to be held to the same standards as the public warrants of the judicial branch.

... it is pretty clear there are a few camps not likely to reach on resolution on that.

Posted by: defining warrant? | September 18, 2006 7:50 PM

"You are wrong on the Patriot Act - maybe you have not been paying attention. There is no provision in the Patriot Act that allows any law enforcement agency - federal or local- to TAP YOUR PHONE WITHOUT A JUDGES APPROVAL OR A WARRANT. You can get "Express warrants" and "Sealed warrants" but you still need a judges approval. We have been using these type of warrants in this country for years agianst the mob and drug dealers, but somehow when it applies to terrorists during the Bush administration it is all wrong."

Um...yeah. Warrantless wiretapping - it is happening.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/12/AR2006091201492.html

Posted by: SF | September 18, 2006 7:54 PM

But, "to melt" have you considered that the soldiers involved in Abu Graib or the ones who raped and murdered a young woman and her *entire family* should *not* be considered terrorists??? I would be the first to put them in front of the firing squad with no blindfolds. At war against terrorists my a$$! And of course there was My Lai in Vietnam. Please.

As for the wiretapping and other intrusive activity by NSA and other agencies, it must be done LEGALLY!!! With a judicial review and permission!!! Go check to see if Clinton got the Judicial go-ahead for his activities. If he did, then it was LEGAL -- it was OK. Bush and Cheney didn't even bother. If indeed this surveillance is important in the fight against terrorism, then it must be done LEGALLY -- you know, according to the law and legal rules established under the Constitution and other statutes -- or there is simply no point to the yammering on about "democracy". Please.

Posted by: sooze | September 18, 2006 7:54 PM

I am not a lawyer but the bit I understand about the patriot act is that it changes what is meant by a warrant...

the wikiality description is ...In special cases covered by FISA (amended by the USA PATRIOT Act), the warrants may come from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) instead of a common Federal or State Court. FISC warrants are not public record and therefore are not required to be released. Other warrants must be released, especially to the person under investigation...

so there is a warrant, but not the type of warrant obtained on law & order :) Since you are moving power to the executive branch, the issue comes down to whether you trust the secret warrants of the executive branch to be held to the same standards as the public warrants of the judicial branch.

... it is pretty clear there are a few camps not likely to reach on resolution on that.

Posted by: defining warrant? | September 18, 2006 7:56 PM

'Since you are moving power to the executive branch, the issue comes down to whether you trust the secret warrants of the executive branch to be held to the same standards as the public warrants of the judicial branch.'

I don't trust the executive branch. This is not about Bush for me, it's about any executive branch having too much power.

Posted by: experienced mom | September 18, 2006 8:02 PM

The Abu Graib soldiers and Marines suspected (not convicted) of rape and murder are being tried in our military courts IDIOT. They were in Uniform. We brought them up on charges, they are paying. Do you think the Abu Graib soldiers deserve to be shot - are you serious? They didn't kill anyone - they humiliated people. Several have gone to the brig and lost their whole lives, but they should not be shot.

I can't seriously discuss military matters with people that want to constantly point to My Lai in Vietnam as an example of our military. You obviously have no respect for our soldiers. They fight so that you can sit on your ass in front of a computer and dishonor them. Shame on you Sooze.

Your hatred for Bush should not overflow to our military.

As for your other legal vs illegal mumbo jumbo on St. Clinton - I am too tired and disgusted by you to reply.

Posted by: sooze | September 18, 2006 8:09 PM

I don't accept, not should anyone accept Washington Post articles as evidence for supposed wiretapping. Nice try though.

Posted by: Dear SF | September 18, 2006 8:10 PM

***I guess on June 6th, 1945 you would have demanded that the President tell ALL americans about the invasion plans of Normandy - I mean - we have a right to know - don't we?***

This is just ridiculous, sensational hyperbole! Insinuating that somebody who wants oversight of the elected officials that use our money to run our government is "Un-American" or "Sides with the terrorists" is just silly and does nothing to further intellectual debate.

Posted by: sf | September 18, 2006 8:15 PM

"I don't accept, not should anyone accept Washington Post articles as evidence for supposed wiretapping. Nice try though."

Well, then who do you trust? BBC? CNN? NY Times? How about Good Old Fox News? This has been reported EVERYWHERE. Even the conservative blogs don't dispute the fact that warrantless wiretapping has happened.

I bet I could guess how you feel about all of the Weapons of Mass Destruction that were buried in Iraq.

Posted by: To Dear SF | September 18, 2006 8:30 PM

Warrantless wiretapping of John Q. Citizen I suppose? John Q. Citizen that has phone calls from terrorists perhaps, but you and me - no. I'll read you "article" and I use that term loosely - tomorrow - and see what I can gleem from your arguement that we are being wiretapped as we sit here and type on this horrible blog.

Good night and sweet dreams of paranoia and wiretapping. I hear that Bush and Cheney can get in your head while you sleep with implanted microchips, I read it in the Washington Post.

Posted by: to sf | September 18, 2006 8:48 PM

Yes, of course there has been warrentless wiretapping. That is why it was all over the news....this administration argued that they didn't HAVE to go through the FISA process (we're at war, they're terrorists, etc). This administration seeks to acquire as much power from the courts as possible. Uh duh!

And those who seek to hold us to the Geneva Convention are looking out for the welfare of our military. Why do you think it was Colin Powell, John McCain among others who are vehemently against this administration's practice of torture? BECAUSE THEY WERE SOLDIERS!! They understand that we should be better than other countries, be held to a higher standard and we need to follow these laws if we have any hope that our captured soldiers will be treated humanely. WE ARE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA---we used to be the moral guiding light of the world and Bush and his cronies are destroying that. It's shameful. Our standing in the international community has sunk lower than ever in history.

And with approval ratings in the 30s, most Americans are tired of the lies, half truths and other chicanery. We need competence in the White House and I pray to God that we get it.

Posted by: Correcting misconceptions | September 18, 2006 9:00 PM

And with approval ratings in the 30s, most Americans are tired of the lies, half truths and other chicanery. We need competence in the White House and I pray to God that we get it.

well said, BRAVO!!

Bush is dumb and Cheney and Rumsfield are mean and self righteous.

It's embarasing to be an American.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2006 9:16 PM

The 8:09 post was not me, obviously. Well, it seems that our fascist ranter is confused in that he/she believes that the courts (albeit "military" courts) are okay to use in regard to allegedly recalcitrant soldiers, but the courts should not be used according to constitutional and otherwise statutory mandates. Um, pick 'em and choose 'em much? I'm not up on Third Reich German or Stalinist Russian at the moment, but I'm sure the ranter would find solace therein.

The U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have been betrayed and deserted by their own government -- witness the egregious lack of troops and lack of resources. The Iraqis have likewise creamed by their "liberators."

I want my country back.

Posted by: sooze | September 18, 2006 9:31 PM

jeepers, "to _____" give yourself a real name already.

Posted by: cut it | September 18, 2006 10:30 PM

To whomever said: "Ps. Why are you using the name Pittypat?"

Why are you using the name "To Pittypat"?

Posted by: pittypat | September 18, 2006 10:36 PM

"Bush is dumb and Cheney and Rumsfield are mean and self righteous.

It's embarasing to be an American."

Great rebuttal - na nanny boo-boo

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 8:13 AM

Hi -it's that fascist ranter. You have some balls comparing me to the Third Reich. First you disparage our military and the military court system then you call me a fascist.

If you want your country back your better stop accusing people of things you know nothing - admittedly.

Do you know anyone in the military? I do - quite a few. They don't feel deserted by their government, they feel deserted by the American People, and with good reason Looking at your disgusting posts on them I understand their concern.

Good day sooze - you make me sick.

Posted by: to sooze | September 19, 2006 8:21 AM

"House leaders moved yesterday to temper many of the controls that a bill headed toward rapid passage would have imposed on the Bush administration's program for wiretapping terrorism suspects without court approval."

Your proof from the wash post article was less then impressive. The opening paragraph states warrantless wiretapping of TERRORIST SUSPECTS, not John Q. Citizen. If you are on a terrorist watch list, like many of the 9/11 highjackers - then they can wiretap you without a warrant, however it does require approvals - although not through the traditional warrant process. You'd have to believe that every federal employee in the process chain is out to get you and me - some of which are "gasp" holdovers from the annointed Clinton administration.

Again, unless you are a suspected terrorist - you will not get wiretapped.

BTW - I don't trust any media outlet - CNN, FOX, Wash Post - and if you do - Good Luck!

Posted by: to sf | September 19, 2006 8:42 AM

MJ: Yes, things are going pretty well for me. I am also looking toward retirement (in 28 months and counting). I have been working to support myself for 41 years. I'm tired. I'm burned out. I'm sick of taking orders from people half my age. I'm tired of the office politics and the me-ism that comes with spoiled, greedy co-workers.

You see, I was working long before Women's Lib hit the fan. In my school years, girls were encouraged to be teachers or nurses if they had wealthy parents to send them to college. The poorer amongst us were to become secretaries or waitresses. I chose the former. Now I'm stuck behind a keyboard, answering phones, babysitting people with law degrees, and wiping their ....uh, noses. I'm surprised some of them can dress themselves in the morning. It's too late for me to go back to school for another career. I look at these younger women coming out of daddy-funded college and they really believe they are entitled to big bucks and a corner office without any work experience or seniority. Get a grip, girls, and stop whining and pouting. Equal rights means pulling your share of the weight, not dishing out privileges to you merely because you are female.

BTW -- when I retire I plan to go to community college and get into the nursing field. It's what I've wanted to do all along but my blue-collar parents couldn't afford it.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 19, 2006 9:51 AM

Just what society needs. A mean, bitter, ill-humored nurse. With your bedside manner, your patients will be calling Dr. Kevorkian for relief. If you have any extra money, spend it on some therapy before you invest in another career. With your attitude, anything you do will end up a catastrophe.

Posted by: to childless by choice | September 19, 2006 10:11 AM

I would just like to point out that some of the most outspoken critics of Mr. Bush's attempt to skirt the Geneva Conventions are former and current military men. Mr. Powell, Mr. McCain and Mr. Lindsey Graham. Not a democrat among them. And for the record I recently retired from 22 years in the military. Professional military people don't want to be part of a force that endorses torture. It's ineffective and it degrades us.

Posted by: Melt | September 19, 2006 10:14 AM

to jrk - i did notice a lack of "facts" in your mentioning sweden; nary a number or statistic in your little rant. i gave an example of a person who prefered sweden and you immediately assumed with that the person went to sweden to live on the dole. nice touch there, was it her race or gender that made you assume that?

Posted by: quark | September 19, 2006 12:31 PM

You are still posting about Sweden?

Posted by: to quark | September 19, 2006 1:19 PM

Melt - Are terrorists covered under the Geneva Convention? Who is endorsing torture?

I would hardly call Powell and McCain conservatives - RINO's maybe, but not conservatives.

Posted by: CMAC | September 19, 2006 1:36 PM

I have to second Melt - to make a blanket statement that would lead to people inferring that all personnel in the military feel deserted by the people is ... wrong. Personnel in the military are mostly a cross-section of those in America. We have different opinons, not all of us kow-tow to the party line, but as we signed up to do, the majority of us do as we are ordered and (hopefully) our elected officials represent us and our POV.
It is not the place of a soldier, airman, or seaman to question out loud when on the front line - though we do in our hearts and minds. It would be detrimental to morale. So just because there hasn't been a huge upheaval in the military - it doesn't mean we aren't doing something.
McCain went through horrifying experiences in POW camps and perhaps he made the resolution that no matter the human being - no one deserves to be treated the way he and the other POW's were treated. I can say that after going through Resistance Training (a very lite version of what the detainees have gone through) - I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
I know there are exceptions to every rule - but I think the "Golden Rule" should be to treat them as we would expect our troops to be treated. Tit for tat does not equal being right. To treat terrorists as we would expect our citizens to be treated. To take the moral high ground if you will. Or maybe I'm just too much of an idealist.
I made my decision with my feet and got out, not just because of my disagreement with the war - but because of my need for "balance" with my family.

Posted by: LGB to "to Sooze" "to melt" and "to SF" | September 19, 2006 1:37 PM

To anonymous defensive poster: Are you a therapist? How could you recognize someone who might need therapy? People who know me think I'm kind, generous, thoughtful, completely selfless, independent and have a great sense of humor. You can analyze me on only a couple postings? Yeah, right. Sure, you can. I've been able to support myself since I left home at 19, put myself through night school by working two jobs, bought my own house and a couple cars on my own with no financial support from parents or spouse, so everything I have done has not been a disaster. Perhaps you're jealous that you've not been able to do the same. Or maybe you're a lawyer. I have been treated for ulcers and major depression. Working for lawyers does that to you. 28 months and counting.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | September 19, 2006 1:40 PM

"I have been treated for ulcers and major depression...."
I was right about your need for therapy by your own admission. You give yourself away, childless.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 1:45 PM

To CMAC, Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to "persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of the armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause" It goes on to say that "they shall in all circumstances be treated humanely..." All U.S. military personnel are briefed on the Law of Armed Conflict and understand that once someone has been taken prisoner they are determined to be "taking no active part in the hostilities" There is no distinction drawn between terrorists or traditional combatants in Art 3. I will say for myself that even if there were no laws or treaties barring inhumane treatment we would as a moral people abstain from that sort of behavour anyway. What a sad day we've arrived at when I have to justify being against torture.

Posted by: Melt | September 19, 2006 2:02 PM

"Do you know anyone in the military? I do - quite a few. They don't feel deserted by their government, they feel deserted by the American People, and with good reason Looking at your disgusting posts on them I understand their concern."

I know plenty of military persons and many are against this war. Many were against going into the conflict b/c they knew from the outset that the strategy was wrong. Note that two army chiefs were fired because they testified before congress that the plan didn't include enough troops and that we had to prepare for civil war. But our administration didn't want to hear it.

And people like you twist people's beliefs and comments. We can support that military but disapprove of our civilian administrations lies, deceit and lack of competence.

And John McCain is considered conservative. He's just not as much of an a**hole as Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. And Colin Powell is a Republican greatly admired by many Americans (he lost some of my respect when he perpetuated lies at the UN in support of the Iraq invasion).

You need to get your facts straight and your head out of your....

Posted by: To anonymous believer in torture | September 19, 2006 2:35 PM

Yeah, and we could all enjoy those spiralling Scandinavian unemployment rates as well!

"Sorry for the snarkiness...couldn't resist."

I understand, such things spring from a limited intellect.

Posted by: Rufus | September 19, 2006 2:56 PM

Melt - I see don't see where terrorists are covered under Art 3- are they "those that have laid down thier arms?" "Taking no part in hostilities" means they are not actively involved in hostilities - and? Obviously they are not, aren't we discussing Terrorist activities already planned or exercised? Are terrorist activities the same as wartime hostilities?

Again, who is proposing torture? Stress positions and sleep depravation are torture?

Is it a sad day when a former member of the military can not engage in discussion without assuming I am pro-torture. I merely asked questions, and you have protected my right to do so. Thanks for sharing your information but stop calling me pro-torture.

Posted by: CMAC | September 19, 2006 3:22 PM

LGB- I think we should find the terrorists and kill them. Period. Locking them up and playing nice-nice means nothing to those that would kill us if they had the chance.

Posted by: anonymous | September 19, 2006 3:47 PM

"BTW - I don't trust any media outlet - CNN, FOX, Wash Post - and if you do - Good Luck!"

Well now I'm curious. Where DO you get your news?

Posted by: Curious | September 19, 2006 3:50 PM

His news is transmitted to him via the fillings in his mouth.

Posted by: Didn't you know | September 19, 2006 3:52 PM

It only inflames them and makes them hate us more and turns people who would have been on our side against us.

I agree there are terrorists. I agree something needs to be done.

There is more to it than someone just being a terrorist. I again put out there that I'm a bit of an idealist and I'm not sure how to put this, but I kind of equate it to: do we hold it against inner city youths who turn to drugs and violence because of their environment - to a certain extent, we do, because everyone is responsible for their own actions. But we also have intervention programs and we try to fix the cause of the problems. The government of our country has a certain responsiblity for fostering an environment in which these terrorists became terrorists and thrive, but they also have a responsibility for their choices.

Some inmates once in prison realize the error of their ways - are you also saying that anyone who takes a life deserves to die? What about proof? Maybe I'm stretching here as well, but what about people put on death row and then DNA evidence shows they weren't responsible for a murder? Just because someone has a gun in their hands when you show up at a camp doesn't mean they are a terrorist, they could be the cook, trying to eke out a living.
Do you know what each and every terrorist has been through in their lifetime? Have you lived in a country where you've been treated like less than nothing, live in a refugee camp, have zero prospects for yourself or your family, and someone offers you what you see in your limited scope of the world as a way out?
Where does the definition of terrorist begin and end? Since its such a fluid and amorphous and hard to define and pin down word ... would you just kill everyone? Would you have them put to death because of a confession made under torture (which is notoriously unreliable for extracting the truth)? I don't know, but for me, after taking all that into consideration, its not as easy as "kill 'em all."

Posted by: LGB to "anonymous" | September 19, 2006 4:04 PM

To CMAC, I just read through my post again and don't see that I called you "pro-torture" or anything else for that matter. I believe that some in the Bush admin are trying to make the case for torturing terror suspects. As for who does Art 3 apply to; some read Art 3 to include only uniformed troops, some read it more broadly. Decide for yourself. My copy of Art 3 is a PDF document that I haven't been able to copy and paste, but I'm sure you can "google" it.

Posted by: Melt | September 19, 2006 4:09 PM

To LGB -I don't even know where you are coming from. Do you remember 9/11? People that fly planes into buildings are terrorists, people that strap bombs on their bodies and kill innocent women and children are terrorists. The people that help them carry out their tasks are terrorists and they all deserve to die. Getting into how they were raised and what their childhood lacked means nothing to me when they would kill me without thinking twice.

I will probably never get through to you - but if you want to hold onto the hope that we can reform the terrorists and hold hands with them and sing kumbaya - please do so. I hope they all get shot and killed before they can kill more innocent civilians.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 19, 2006 4:43 PM

I get my news through Karl Rove's secret Haliburton spy network newspaper. You have to be a card carrying hater like Bush and Cheney to get the secret password - but I will share it with you if you so desire.

Where do you get your news? Read The Nation? Listen to Al Franken? Oh wait - let me guess - late night with John Stewart?

Posted by: to curious | September 19, 2006 4:52 PM

Saying all terrorist should die may feel good but it isn't really helpful. How do you go about doing that? Terrorists are not a monolithic group that can be easily identified. Mr. Bush's tactic of attacking nations to deal with terrorists is never going to work. And attacking Iraq certainly ignores the fact that the majority of 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are the biggest supporters of terrorism, yet they're still our good friends. Until our leaders find the political will to make changes in how we deal with Saudi Arabia and the world's dependence on their oil, we will continue to have a terrorist problem.

Posted by: Melt | September 19, 2006 4:57 PM

Ok, I'll dignify that with an answer. I get my news from EVERYWHERE. I don't just read "liberal" papers or watch Jon Stewart I read conservative editorials and watch Fox News too. I like to read international papers to see how the rest of the world sees what's going on in our contry. I don't believe everything I read either. I try to get as much information as I can and make up my own mind from there. It's just as dangerous to take everything Bill O'Reilly or Limbaugh says at face value as it to tune out everything besides Air America or DailyKos.

Posted by: Curious | September 19, 2006 5:23 PM

So you agree with LGB? Love the Terrorists. I don't claim to have all the answers and NOTHING is simple. The Saudi situation has already been exploited by Michael Moore and I didn't go for it them and I won't now.

Terrorists are a monolithic group - Muslim extremists. Unless you are Rosie O'Donnell and think Christian Extremists are the REAL problem. Where do they hang out? The Middle East. How do we find them? Go looking - there are plenty. I can't outline a 10 point plan on how to find and kill the terrorists - but I have a feeling our military can do a pretty good job. I trust them.

Posted by: TO MELT | September 19, 2006 5:36 PM

Seriously Curious, I get my news from several sources - what a coincidence. I do read the Washington Compost on line - I scan the Washington Times, I read Drudge - but I think it has become law that people check it once a day. I do not watch network news. I love Brit Hume on Fox, I hate Bill O'Reilly. I make up my own mind for the most part but I am very conservative and currently irritated at the RNC and the Bush Administration - for whatever that is worth.

I used to listen to a lot of Talk Radio and used to blog a lot - but don't have the time anymore. I stumbled upon the On Balance site a couple months ago and couldn't believe what people get away with saying on this sheltered little liberal site. Apparently all the worlds ills, especially women's problems, are Bushes fault - it is almost laughable to read - like a Saturday Night Live skit. So now I post and mix things up.

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Posted by: john | October 1, 2006 5:23 PM

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