Higher Wages, Healthier Children, and Time Off

Finally, a small bit of good news has come out of the Iraq war: Last week, before Congress recessed for August (the "Summer District Work Period" is how it's described on the U.S. House of Representatives Calendar), the Senate approved an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow the family of wounded military personnel to take up to six months of unpaid leave without losing their jobs. Current law -- the same that allows for unpaid maternity leave -- allows only 12 weeks. One of the more heart-wrenching back stories of the war has been families forced to choose between caring for injured veterans (often in military hospitals far from home) and keeping their jobs.

In the last week of work, Congress improved "balance" in our lives in other important ways, according to a Reuters recap yesterday. "We have made more progress in the last seven days than previous congresses made in the last seven years," Democratic leaders boasted, according to Reuters.

The first minimum wage increase in a decade went into effect in July, helping our country's lowest paid workers. The 70 cent increase to $5.85 an hour was pitifully small, especially when you wonder how a working mother can pay for child care, food, rent and other necessities if her gross wages are less than $50 for an eight-hour work day. But 70 cents marks a victory, given that Republicans had blocked any increase when they controlled Congress.

The House and Senate also passed different versions of a Children's Health Bill to expand health insurance coverage for between three and four million low-income American children not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. President Bush has threatened to veto either version, but bipartisan support is strong enough that Democrats may be able to override him.

Healthy children. A decent living. Flexibility to care for your family when they most need you.

These seem like fairly basic requests to me.

What do you think? If you could pass a bill in Congress, what would you ask for? What more can our government do to help us all find balance in our lives?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 8, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Moms in the News
Previous: Are You The Other Mother? | Next: Getting Rid of Time Sinks


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Good stuff. I always find it amusing that one party sponsors this type of legislation, yet the other party is always awarded the credit for "supporting the troops".

Who really supports the troops? Wake up America.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 8, 2007 9:03 AM

If this blog was posted at 7 AM -- which I doubt -- why was there no comment till after 9? What time was this blog REALLY posted, Leslie? If you can't do us the courtesy of being honest with us, how can you reasonably expect chatters to reciprocate?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 9:10 AM

I think Congress should quit with the Children's Health Bill, which is supposedly funded on tobacco taxes.

Like something as dynamic as health care is going to make it on a tax that stays fixed over time! It's politics plain and simple -- so don't go thinking they care....

They need to quit using "children" as a political tool and just plain tackle health reform.

Posted by: RedBird27 | August 8, 2007 9:27 AM

Yeah, this blog seems to have appeared at around 9:00, but hey, I'm just happy it's here so I have something to read!

I am encouraged by these bills. Both the FMLA and minimum wage increases are great. Seventy cents is pretty lame, but at least it's something.

I'm with RedBird in that health care needs a major overhaul and that these little bills are nothing but band-aids. If the government offers low-cost health care to more people, the cost just rises for the rest of us and for doctors. Something needs to change so that all people, not just sweet low-income kids, have access to affordable health care.

I really hope today doesn't turn into partisan BS, but it probably will. So my two cents is that the wave of the future is multiple parties and more moderate politics. The sooner we stop with the "us" versus "them" mentality, the better.

Posted by: Meesh | August 8, 2007 9:40 AM

"It's politics plain and simple -- so don't go thinking they care...."

What does that even mean? I've noticed that, when people disagree with elected officials' decisions, they label it "politics", as if this were some meaningful derogatory term. Unfortunately, the overuse and misuse of the term has rendered it meaningless, and people who use it in a derogatory manner do not make clear what they mean by it.

Anyway, to say that the Congressional Democrats don't care is unbelievably werong. The people who benefit from an increase in CHIP don't exactly vote. If it were just "politics", wouldn't the Republicans have done this during their time in control of Congress since it would, in your opinion, provide political benefits? Why did so many fight against it now (not all, just many)? Because Democrats and Republicans have different values -- i.e. it's not "just politics".

Posted by: rlalumiere | August 8, 2007 9:40 AM

Has anyone seen this article on MSN.com today? From Newsweek:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20121799/site/newsweek/page/3/

Posted by: dcgirl1899 | August 8, 2007 9:46 AM

"The 70 cent increase to $5.85 an hour was pitifully small, especially when you wonder how a working mother can pay for child care, food, rent and other necessities if her gross wages are less than $50 for an eight-hour work day. . . .
"If you could pass a bill in Congress, what would you ask for? What more can our government do to help us all find balance in our lives?"

Posted by Leslie Morgan Steiner '87 | August 8, 2007; 7:00 AM ET

Maybe a single worker can get along fine on $5.85 an hour, the new minimum wage. But Leslie is right -- how can a working mother survive on that wage? Why shouldn't the boss be able to pay a working mother, with a family to support, more than he pays a single worker? The slogan of the Democratic Party comes from Louis Blanc: "à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés." But if an enlightened, progressive employer wants to put M. Blanc's slogan into practice, and pay mothers more according to their needs and single workers less according to their needs, it is Big Government's Procrustean laws against "discrimination by family status" that get in the way. So the first thing I would pass in Congress is a repeal of those laws.

But even an enlightened, progressive boss still can't pay a decent wage to American workers if he is competing with companies that exploit maquiladora labor in Mexico, coolie labor in Singapore, child labor in India, and prison slave labor in Red China. So the next thing I would have Congress do -- and here I agree with candidate Dennis Kucinich -- is pull the USA out of NAFTA and WTO. I'd also move away from economy-crippling income taxes, back to the days when most of the Federal Government's revenues came from -- TARIFFS! I would continue the Bush/Republican tax cuts -- maybe even double them -- and make up the lost revenue by passing a monster tariff that would make Hawley and Smoot look like paragons of free trade. Then Americans could resume manufacturing their own pet food (without melamine), their own toothpaste (without ethylene glycol), and their own toys (without lead-based paint).

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 8, 2007 9:49 AM

I understand that deep cuts in payments to medicaid and medicare supplemental insurance plans are also helping to finance this new bill for expanded health care for children. As the parent of a severely disabled child (now grown) who lives independently on an extremly limited income and depends on medicid, medicare, SS, and SSI to stay alive, I am naturally concerned.

I have seen so many programs to help one needy sector of the population suffer to help another needy sector of the population. Sometimes the whole enterprise of aiding low income people seems like a giant shell game by the haves just arranging the budgets of and for the various have nots.

Has anyone seen a good analysis of how the the new Children's Health Bill is being paid for and who are the losers as well as the winners? This is where party rhetoric gets thick and misleading, ShoP had nothing informative when I checked yesterday.
Elisabeth Higgins Null


Posted by: enul | August 8, 2007 10:04 AM

I understand that deep cuts in payments to medicaid and medicare supplemental insurance plans are also helping to finance this new bill for expanded health care for children. As the parent of a severely disabled child (now grown) who lives independently on an extremly limited income and depends on medicid, medicare, SS, and SSI to stay alive, I am naturally concerned.

I have seen so many programs to help one needy sector of the population suffer to help another needy sector of the population. Sometimes the whole enterprise of aiding low income people seems like a giant shell game by the haves just arranging the budgets of and for the various have nots.

Has anyone seen a good analysis of how the the new Children's Health Bill is being paid for and who are the losers as well as the winners? This is where party rhetoric gets thick and misleading, ShoP had nothing informative when I checked yesterday.
Elisabeth Higgins Null


Posted by: enul | August 8, 2007 10:04 AM

I understand that deep cuts in payments to medicaid and medicare supplemental insurance plans are also helping to finance this new bill for expanded health care for children. As the parent of a severely disabled child (now grown) who lives independently on an extremly limited income and depends on medicid, medicare, SS, and SSI to stay alive, I am naturally concerned.

I have seen so many programs to help one needy sector of the population suffer to help another needy sector of the population. Sometimes the whole enterprise of aiding low income people seems like a giant shell game by the haves just arranging the budgets of and for the various have nots.

Has anyone seen a good analysis of how the the new Children's Health Bill is being paid for and who are the losers as well as the winners? This is where party rhetoric gets thick and misleading, ShoP had nothing informative when I checked yesterday.
Elisabeth Higgins Null


Posted by: enul | August 8, 2007 10:04 AM

I understand that deep cuts in payments to medicaid and medicare supplemental insurance plans are also helping to finance this new bill for expanded health care for children. As the parent of a severely disabled child (now grown) who lives independently on an extremly limited income and depends on medicid, medicare, SS, and SSI to stay alive, I am naturally concerned.

I have seen so many programs to help one needy sector of the population suffer to help another needy sector of the population. Sometimes the whole enterprise of aiding low income people seems like a giant shell game by the haves just arranging the budgets of and for the various have nots.

Has anyone seen a good analysis of how the the new Children's Health Bill is being paid for and who are the losers as well as the winners? This is where party rhetoric gets thick and misleading, ShoP had nothing informative when I checked yesterday.
Elisabeth Higgins Null


Posted by: enul | August 8, 2007 10:04 AM

I'm sorry, even a single person can't survive on minimum wage, (and it is not fair to discriminate against single people particularly since parents get signifigantly larger tax refunds.) Other than that, I agree with the poster who pointed out that NAFTA and "free trade" have harmed American workers. I don't know if it's realistic to expect NAFTA to be repealed, but it should be changed. I only hope that the Republicans don't find a way to make American workers forget, once again, their own interests in 2008.

Posted by: skylark1 | August 8, 2007 10:05 AM

passing a monster tariff that would make Hawley and Smoot look like paragons of free trade.

So then instead of passing the day posting on on balance, we can be begging in the street- brother can you spare a dime? Matt you know better than that.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 10:08 AM

If I work just as hard and just as long as someone with children, and I do just a good a job, you're telling me that they should get paid more, just because they have children to support?

That's ridiculous. "Perpetuating the species" does not entitle you to a greater share of the salary pie than your coworker without children. That would be like saying that a single man should be paid more for the same work than a comparably skilled woman because he has to pay for dates! Geez, I didn't realize "equal pay for equal work" includes exceptions for lifestyle choices (and yes, it is a CHOICE to have children and it is a parent's responsibility to figure out how to make their take-home pay match their needs - if you can't afford to have a child, you shouldn't have one).

Posted by: dcgirl1899 | August 8, 2007 10:13 AM

I agree that the minimum increase was pitifully small, but single working parents should be dealt with in the tax code. That is the point of the EITC and chidl tax credits. These in itself are pitifully little, but that's where you work out taking care of income issues for struggling families.

Posted by: biteMeWaPo | August 8, 2007 10:13 AM

Ok, the vast majority of people making minimum wage are teenagers, with another large percentage being second jobs. Practically no one is trying to make a living off minimum wage. Heck, even fast food pays more than minimum wage nowadays.

More importantly, if a minimum wage is a good idea, why don't we just raise it to $30/hr? We'd solve poverty! It's brilliant! Must be those Evil Republicans (TM) who are preventing this. They probably like having poor people around. Also, their robots use old people's medicine for fuel.

Posted by: acheron2112 | August 8, 2007 10:14 AM

...and now we're talking about protectionism? Seriously people. The laws of economics aren't, you know, optional or anything.

Posted by: acheron2112 | August 8, 2007 10:17 AM

"Maybe a single worker can get along fine on $5.85 an hour, the new minimum wage. But Leslie is right -- how can a working mother survive on that wage? Why shouldn't the boss be able to pay a working mother, with a family to support, more than he pays a single worker?"

Before we get into the ridiculous discussion of whether a working mother deserves to be paid more than a single worker, I will just point out that Matt very disingenuously twisted (if I were in a fighting mood, I would actually say "lied about") what Leslie said. Leslie never said that a working mother should be paid more than a single worker. She just said that even the new minimum wage was paltry, and that no working mother could live on it. Which is true. My bet is that single people cannot independently live on it either. Bottom line is that the minimum wage is inadequate to allow anyone, especially working parents, to survive. No one is saying that working parents deserve more money for the same job. Matt fabricated that stupid argument.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 10:23 AM

MattinAberdeen, surely you don't think that other countries will just stand by while we implement elaborate tariff schemes to make their products cost more in this country? Don't you think those countries will respond in kind? I don't see how an even more unbalanced trade deficit would be good for the American worker.

I do agree that there are serious problems with free trade in this country, given that our workers are being replaced by overseas workers who do the same work for cents on the dollar. But I think upgrading the skills of our workers - so they can do different jobs in a new type of economy - is a better solution. We aren't going to return to our blue-collar roots; those jobs just aren't going to pay enough to support families anymore. We need to move forward, not try to recapture the past.

Posted by: ladylily21 | August 8, 2007 10:25 AM

Acheron, you may be technically correct when you say that the vast majority of minimum wage workers are teenagers, but what about workers making slightly more than minimum? If you created a category of workers called "near minimums" or less than 9$ an hour, you would find a lot of adults, particularly women, and they are working full time. How can one live on that kind of salary? How can one pay for an education that might prepare one for a better job? A job that may have moved overseas in any case.What happens if one has a health problem and misses a few days of work on that kind of salary? It's fine for you to extol the virtues of free market economics, but don't pretend there aren't any losers.

Posted by: skylark1 | August 8, 2007 10:30 AM

There is no need for a minimum wage increase. What we need is to enforce our immigration laws, deport all illegals. With the low-wage worker supply decreases and demand remains steady, wages must then go up.

This would also have a ton of side benefits. Our social services expenditures would decrease. There would be a greater pool of affordable housing. Traffic congestion would be reduced. Gang activity would significantly decrease.

I applaud all of our vetererans. It's good that FMLA has been expanded for these families.

Posted by: ivangroznii | August 8, 2007 10:30 AM

All that raising the minimum wage does is make limousine liberals feel better. YEA we raised the minimum wage, now honey can you confirm our reservation at Citronelle?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 10:31 AM

their own toothpaste (without ethylene glycol)
----------------------------------------------------
Ethylene glycol is in toothpaste so your teeth don't freeze on a cold day!

(ethylene glycol is that stuff you put in the radiator of your car!)

Posted by: anonthistime | August 8, 2007 10:35 AM

You are right - it is not realistic to survive on minimal wage, especially with kids. That's why people shouldn't have kids when they live on minimum wage, especially more than one kid. On the other hand, I think that it's ridiculous that all kids don't have guaranteed healthcare in this country. If I were in congress, I would pass a bill that all kids, regardless of their parent's financial status, have access to free medical care up until they are 21. Also, daycare that costs more than college doesn't make sense to me. How about subsidized daycare for all working parents' kids (not just for the poor).

Posted by: Dura | August 8, 2007 10:37 AM

I just finished writing a guest blog that I was going to send to Leslie about making ends meet when one parents stays at home. It seems so entitled and spoiled when I consider that there are people out there who live check to check on minumum wage. Of course, they don't blog here, so I'm going to send it in anyway!

I have nothing to add to this, as I'm pitifully uniformed about US economics. I'm here to learn today.

Posted by: atb2 | August 8, 2007 10:48 AM

While I do realize circumstances change for some parents, I just wonder about the wisdom of people having children when they are only making minimum wage. And then complaining they have no money. ???
I always looked at minimum wages jobs as jobs for teens on school breaks, or second jobs to supplement income (perhaps for a special purchase).

Posted by: Catwhowalked | August 8, 2007 10:55 AM

atb

"I just finished writing a guest blog that I was going to send to Leslie about making ends meet when one parents stays at home. Seems so entitled and spoiled when I consider that there are people out there who live check to check on minumum wage. Of course, they don't blog here, so I'm going to send it in anyway!"

Yes, DO send in your guest blog! The people who currently live on minimum wage may not blog here, but there are plenty of people who HAVE lived on minimum wage or less who blog here.

I will be more than DELIGHTED to comment on your budget tips!!!

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 11:01 AM

The sad fact is that raising the minimum wage hurts the very people it is intended to help. The economic evidence is not 100% behind that view, but it's close. It's so sad that people don't take the time to think about the repercussions of such a market intervention. There are alternatives that really would help the working poor: enhancements to the earned income tax credit (EITC), the refundable child tax credit, etc. But those don't make an easy soundbite. And it's critically-unthinking people like Leslie that buy into the minimum-wage hype. Please, Leslie, don't comment on things you know nothing about. It demeans you, and the newspaper you work for.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 8, 2007 11:02 AM

"The 70 cent increase to $5.85 an hour was pitifully small, especially when you wonder how a working mother can pay for child care, food, rent and other necessities if her gross wages are less than $50 for an eight-hour work day. But 70 cents marks a victory, given that Republicans had blocked any increase when they controlled Congress."

I wonder if a Working Father can get by on that?

Posted by: Krazijoe | August 8, 2007 11:06 AM

How does raising the minimum wage hurt the people it was intended to help? Is it because their income ends up pushing them beyond the aid programs they once qualified for?

Posted by: blueskies2 | August 8, 2007 11:07 AM

I'm interested in the discussion of American jobs moving overseas (even if it's a little off topic). The answer is not simple.

Dealing with illegals (kicking them out or making them legal) might solve the problem. Bowing out of NAFTA might do the trick, but we import a bunch of stuff. The tariffs might be better for us because we export so little. Maybe a solution would be for businesses to pay extra taxes to outsource.

As may be obvious, I know only a little about economics and am looking forward to the discussion.

Posted by: Meesh | August 8, 2007 11:07 AM

Bababooey, it seems unfair to assume that just because someone has a different opinion than you, it's because they nothing about the situation. The economics of raising the minimum wage are not anywhere near as certain as you maintain, and incredibly bright people who are very well educated on the economic evidence come down on both sides of the minimum wage divide.

Posted by: ladylily21 | August 8, 2007 11:08 AM

* know nothing, rather.

Posted by: ladylily21 | August 8, 2007 11:10 AM

bababooey666, you decry the "market intervention" of a minimum wage increase, but don't most workers get raises based on inflation and cost of living increases, etc.? All of those reasons are market based, so why shouldn't minimum wage adjust in the same manner?

I'm all ears WRT to the increase in minimum wage being bad for workers. As you can obviously tell, it's counterintuitive.

Posted by: Meesh | August 8, 2007 11:12 AM

I think a great example is the auto industry. Paying a hs graduate 60-90 k to put a headlight on a car plus benefits? That was fine for the closed world of the 50's when the big three just passed the cost on to a captive market. Those industries now are dealing with the mistakes of the past and may not even survive. Don't even get me started on the GM jobs bank. Paying people to play tic tac toe or read a book. That's insane

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 11:14 AM

Instead of dividing up workers against each other we should give workers the flexibility they crave regardless of their status -- every full time American worker regardless of marital status, gender etc should get a minimum pool of Paid Time Off of 20 days per calendar year to use as they see fit. Short term and long term disability insurance should cover the need for longer absences beyond that pool. Don'tget hung up on semantics, but maternity leave should be enveloped into the short term disability.

We are the only industrialized nation that does not guarentee leave for their workers. It's a national disgrace.

Posted by: HokieAnnie | August 8, 2007 11:20 AM

"President Bush has threatened to veto either version, but bipartisan support is strong enough that Democrats may be able to override him."

Huh? Am I the only one who sees the flaws in this statement? (Hint: if "bipartisan support" is required, then "Democrats" can't override; "Congress" can override or "a bipartisan group" can override but "Democrats" can't override because there aren't enough of them.)

Seriously - most of these issues are pretty complex and there are rarely easy answers. Consider minimum wage. When you raise the minimum wage, it makes businesses raise the cost of their goods and services to keep their profits at a comparable level. So now, you make more money but everything costs more. Are you farther ahead, or not?

(And almost no adults make minimum wage on a primary job - as has been noted, you can't live on it, even as a single person. Plus, even the fast-food joints around this part of Maryland pay substantially more than minimum wage.)

Similarly, Government-funded health care for (children, low-income people, working poor, whomever). It takes money to pay for it; that money has to come from somewhere. It can come in the form of higher taxes; or in the form of other services that aren't provided because Government opts to spend the money on health care; or in the form of more money borrowed by Government to cover budget deficits, which eventually does have to be paid back. So we get the benefit, but at a cost that has to be acknowledged.

Michael Moore likes to point out that the US health care system has more "fat" in it than Government-funded systems in other countries (Canada being his favorite example), and he does have a point in that more money is used in the US system to pay for non-medical costs than in Canada. That money pays the salaries of those who work for the insurance companies, medical offices, etc. Eliminate that "fat" and you eliminate those jobs; those people then have to find other jobs or they're unemployed. There's always a cost. (One could reply with an argument that those people could go get other jobs that are more useful to society in the long run, like being doctors and nurses themselves, but then that leads to other issues with medical school slots, competent medical people, etc.)

The one sure thing is that anytime someone says he's got a silver bullet, check carefully for the masked man riding a silver horse. And don't step in the horse droppings!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 11:20 AM

For the people raising children and making a minimum wage, we do not know their situation. It could possibly be that they weren't making minimum wage when they chose to have children, but circumstances may have them in that situation now, i.e. loss of another better paying job, staying home to raise children and then finding themselves a single parent with obsolete job skills. So, rather than telling people who are making minimum wage to not have children, it would be better to assist them in finding a better paying job or subsidizing child care.

Posted by: D_in_MD | August 8, 2007 11:23 AM

Yeah, I'm anxiously awaiting someone to jump in here to tell us all how invisible hand theory is the right panacea for our shortcomings as a society.

"Market-driven" is, after all, shorthand for "Money-driven".

Seriously, is the pursuit of money the proper driver for societal needs like healthcare and assisting citizens in staying above the poverty level?

We need not view the entirety of civilization as a Darwinian chase for the dollar.

(I'm feeling awfully liberal today.)

Hypocrite disclaimer: I say all this knowing I would rather live a standard DC livestyle than take a vow of poverty.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 8, 2007 11:26 AM

How does raising the minimum wage hurt the people it was intended to help? Is it because their income ends up pushing them beyond the aid programs they once qualified for?

Posted by: blueskies2 | August 8, 2007 11:07 AM

Raising the minimum wage causes prices to go up all around. Requiring McDonalds to pay their employees more is going to make the cost of your hamburger go up.

If people don't want to pay the increased price for your service, then demand for your service goes down. Decreased demand means people get fired.

Or you create inflation, prices go up everywhere and the minimum wage employee ends up with the same purchasing power that they started with.

Posted by: klynnwilder | August 8, 2007 11:30 AM

You know, you really are clueless! I worked for a large motor home manufacturer here in Oregon for several years. The employees are required to work overtime whenever the employer wants them to. They get no notice for this, either. If the employer wants them to work, they have to. No time off for parent-teacher conferences or after school sports or anything else, and no excuses. Miss manitory overtime for *any* reason and you are fired. oh, and the CEO and corporate officers are all Moromons - you know, those "pro-family" religious people?

Posted by: mibrooks27 | August 8, 2007 11:37 AM

"Seriously, is the pursuit of money the proper driver for societal needs like healthcare and assisting citizens in staying above the poverty level?"

That's a very good question, ProudPapa. I find it dismaying that many hospital corporations seem to be managed on the principal of maximizing profits above everything else, and some of these companies have gotten in trouble for engaging in unethical and illegal practices, such as fraudulently upcoding (coding for services that were not provided but that are reimbursed at higher rates) for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for example, or giving their physicians kickbacks for referring patients to them. And these are not obscure, fly by night organiziations. They are big companies that control hundreds of hospitals. And I think that one of the reasons these practices come into being is that hospital administrators now see hospitals as a money making venture primarily, rather as a service to people. I am not saying that doctors and hospitals should not be compensated for the work they do. But I do think that ethically, maximizing the bottom line should not be the primary goal of these kinds of enterprises. Providing health care should be the end, not simply the means.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 11:38 AM

"Maybe a single worker can get along fine on $5.85 an hour, the new minimum wage. But Leslie is right -- how can a working mother survive on that wage? Why shouldn't the boss be able to pay a working mother, with a family to support, more than he pays a single worker? The slogan of the Democratic Party comes from Louis Blanc: 'à chacun selon ses besoins, de chacun selon ses facultés.'"

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 8, 2007 09:49 AM

Matt very disingenuously twisted (if I were in a fighting mood, I would actually say "lied about") what Leslie said. Leslie never said that a working mother should be paid more than a single worker.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 10:23 AM

Matt never said that Leslie said that a working mother should be paid more than a single worker. Any more than I said that Leslie said that the slogan of the Democratic Party comes from Louis Blanc. I said that Leslie is right that a working mother cannot survive on $5.85 an hour. The rest of my post was all my ideas -- I never ascribed them to Leslie.

In a free market, both parties have their needs and their abilities and their bargaining power. In most cases, even a skilled worker has little bargaining power by himself: "What force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one? But the Union makes us strong!" Let the Union's membership decide whether their needs vary according to the number of dependents they have to support. And let the Union bargain with the employer to pay each Union member according to both the member's productive faculties and the member's needs, just as the Army provides more spacious housing to soldiers with dependents than to soldiers without them. Government's rôle should be limited to keeping unscrupulous employers from nullifying the Union's power by threatening to outsource all the jobs to Red China.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 8, 2007 11:42 AM

How can the government help me find balance in my life? How about helping with student loans? That's the only thing I can complain about in my life, as it stands right now. Just because one's parents make enough money in the government's eyes to afford paying for their child through college, doesn't mean they will. Perhaps they didn't make the best financial choices and are in debt, or maybe they just don't feel like paying. Either way, it is ridiculous that one should have to pay $50,000 just to get a decent education (not even a great one!).

Oh, and I read some comments about fast food chains paying better than minimum wage...my sister worked at a fast food place for about 6 years and they fired her because she started making too much. They would rather take someone off the street because they don't have to pay as much. So as far as I know (and this may not apply to all chains or all locations), there is a high turnover rate in the fast food industry.

I do wonder, however, how Congress can stomach giving themselves a raise every couple years, yet let the minimum wage sit at the same amount for 10 years (thereby making it hard for people like my sister to make a living)? Doesn't surprise me. By the way, I enjoyed reading others' posts as I know next to nothing about economics.

Posted by: stomlin82 | August 8, 2007 11:53 AM

"If I work just as hard and just as long as someone with children, and I do just a good a job, you're telling me that they should get paid more, just because they have children to support?

"That's ridiculous. 'Perpetuating the species' does not entitle you to a greater share of the salary pie than your coworker without children."

Posted by: dcgirl1899 | August 8, 2007 10:13 AM

Oh, so? The company can set up a free, on-site day care center for employees' children. Maybe that center costs the center $300 a week per employee whose children use it. The coworker without children gets no benefit out of that day care center. And that's just one of the benefits that workers with children enjoy. For others, see Elinor Burkett's book, "The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless" (New York: The Free Press, 2000).

If the Union can get parents this kind of benefit that childless workers don't enjoy, what's the difference if the Union gets the company to pay the parent the extra $300 a week (per child!) in cash? Remember that the boss is not setting up the day care center, or paying salaries, out of the goodness of his capitalistic heart. He is doing it either because he thinks the workers will be more productive if their children are nearby, or because the Union made him do it.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 8, 2007 11:59 AM

"I do wonder, however, how Congress can stomach giving themselves a raise every couple years, yet let the minimum wage sit at the same amount for 10 years (thereby making it hard for people like my sister to make a living)? Doesn't surprise me."

Posted by: stomlin82 | August 8, 2007 11:53 AM

"Stomach" is the word that fits here, all right. And it doesn't surprise me, either, because my great-grandmother used to say, "Whoever is near the pot, that one eats."

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 8, 2007 12:07 PM

Right on, DCgirl1899. A woman who works just as hard as a mother should earn the same paycheck. If I have a ridiculously inflated car payment, and my coworker doesn't, does that mean I should be paid more? I chose to buy that car, didn't I? It's the same logic. Parents spend their money on different things than non-parents, and never let non-parents forget how "rewarding" it is. It's no secret that children are expensive...that's why some people wait to have children until they are fiscally solvent. Some choose not to wait, and that's not their non-parent colleagues' fault. Why should even more money come from a coworker's pocket to cover the expenses of a child they don't know, don't care for, and are not invested in? If the mom does a better job, works longer hours, etc., give her more money. But just because it's harder for a mom to live on minimum wage doesn't mean she should get more, if all her coworkers are stuck licking the crumbs out of the bread basket.

Posted by: Monagatuna | August 8, 2007 12:25 PM

dcgirl:

"If I work just as hard and just as long as someone with children, and I do just a good a job, you're telling me that they should get paid more, just because they have children to support?

"That's ridiculous. 'Perpetuating the species' does not entitle you to a greater share of the salary pie than your coworker without children."

Posted by: dcgirl1899 | August 8, 2007 10:13 AM

As I think Matt alluded to, this can and does happen, directly and indirectly. Take for example the military. Military members with bigger families get bigger quarters on post than do unmarried members. If they live off post, members with dependents get paid more money in the form of housing allowance than do single members. See http://www.army.com/articles/BAH/maryland.html for an example of Army housing allowances in Maryland.

The bottom line is that an employer - and yes, that includes the military - will do what the employer feels is necessary to maintain the needed work force. If that means providing subsidized day care, or higher pay to some employees, or whatever else you can think of, the employer can do it. If an employee thinks it's unfair, the employee can leave; if enough employees leave the employer will have to change its practices.

(Unfortunately for those at the bottom end of the pay scale, this sometimes does mean that the employer will get rid of high earners and replace them with a new batch of low-skilled minimum wage earners. Think Circuit City for example.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 12:29 PM

Posted by: mibrooks27 | August 8, 2007 11:37 AM

I too went to Oregon, seems I can't pump my own gas an attendant must do it for me. Full service prices to protect a 6 dollar a hour job. RIDICULOUS, of course in OREGON it's a 'safety" precaution. WINK WINK. liberalism gone mad.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 12:29 PM

«If you could pass a bill in Congress, what would you ask for?»
« By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 8, 2007; 7:00 AM ET»

Thank you Leslie for asking. First thing, let Congress take crusader religion out of USA federal law. Balance options, they are limited severely by «one man, one woman» rule for marriage. Father works outside the residence, one mommy is Staying In the Residence Mother, she watches all the children, other mommy is Working Outside the Residence Mother. Two incomes, they support three grown-ups and all their children. An economics major you do not have to be to see that the more incomes, the more money in the household. Crusaders, they have made this illegal, though. «One man, one woman» is nothing but crusader religion made into USA federal law Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879). If you think more than one wife is wrong, do not marry more than one wife, but why make it a crime for three or more people (grown-ups, no coercing or selling brides) to marry, they are not hurting anyone, why cannot we get along with non-traditional families? Non-traditional families, they would offer more options for balancing.

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 8, 2007 12:42 PM

abu_ibrahim, would that law allow a woman to marry two husbands? Just think, even more income, since men generally outearn women. Plus, you gotta have someplace for all those extra males to go, since so many women would be in those two-wife/one-husband marriages.

Posted by: Monagatuna | August 8, 2007 12:47 PM

Thank you Leslie for asking. First thing, let Congress take crusader religion out of USA federal law.

Do you realize that the word "crusader' is equal to bloodthirsty muslim terrorist? I can only imagine the howls hear if i painted the muslim world with that brush for every reference to any muslim.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 12:48 PM

hear-(sp)-here

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 12:49 PM

Mona, hope you're enjoying CA.

Despite your "right on" comment, most employers do pay more for married employees/employees with children than for single, childless employees. They do so not directly, in terms of salary, but indirectly in terms of benefits.

For example, my employer provides health insurance for an employee, plus his/her dependents (spouse, children, domestic partner, etc.)

Near as I can tell from the web site, one particular health plan costs the company about $1,000 per month to cover a married employee with two or more children, but only about $300 per month to cover a single employee.

So the married employee with two or more children (that would be me) costs the company $700 per month MORE than the unmarried employee - "Joe" - in the next office. Is that fair? Should it be prohibited?

The company provides this insurance for families because it helps guarantee a skilled workforce. (I sure wouldn't work here without medical insurance for my kids.) Should the company be forced to pay an additional $700 per month to "Joe", either in salary or other benefits because they DON'T pay that in insurance? "Joe" is happy with his pay and benefits package or else he'd quit; while I'm sure he'd enjoy an additional $8,400 per year, why should the company give it to him?

Similarly, the company subsidizes membership in a health club. The health club costs more for a family than for an individual, but the company pays the membership fee. Is it "unfair" that they pay more for my membership than "Joe's"? Should "Joe" quit because the company pays more for my benefit than his?

The bottom line is that the company will do what it believes is necessary to get the work force it wants. Sometimes that means some employees get benefits that others don't.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 12:57 PM

«abu_ibrahim, would that law allow a woman to marry two husbands? Just think, even more income, since men generally outearn women. Plus, you gotta have someplace for all those extra males to go, since so many women would be in those two-wife/one-husband marriages.»

«Posted by: Monagatuna | August 8, 2007 12:47 PM»

My religion, it would not allow a woman to marry two husbands. Government, it has no business making my religion into USA federal law, any more than making crusader religion into USA federal law. Your religion, it may allow you to marry two or three husbands, why should government stop you? Lawmakers, if they get religion-based «one man, one woman» rule repealed, «you gotta have somplace for all those extra males to go», some of those extra males could marry one another, this would get them hanged by Ayatollahs in Iran, America is not Iran, no Ayatollahs, no Saudi religious police, all religions get along, extra males could marry one another, is there anyone on this blog who will say, No, males must not marry one another?

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 8, 2007 1:01 PM

"Senate approved an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow the family of wounded military personnel to take up to six months of unpaid leave without losing their jobs."

This is great, we should take care of the people who risk their lives for this country whether we agree with the war or not.

abu_ibrahim,

I am all for freedom of religion and have even known of a Muslim man who had more than one wife in Ohio. Same family took out a hit on one of their daughters who left her husband and had a black boyfriend, but that is a different story.

I guess what I want to know is, do you want your religion brought into the government by law, and if so, isn't that what you are railing about? Do you support gay marriage? How old do the wives have to be? Who is responsible for caring for all the children born to the many wives? I am thinking of the crazy people in the dessert with 30 kids on the last question. Oh and if you have HBO you might want to watch Big Love.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 1:03 PM

monagatuna--you and abu wrongly assume that all men are supporters of the family and voluntarily contribute and be open and honest with their earnings.
I have had two ex's that absolutely refuse to support their children and pay bills, no matter how much money they make. They spend more time hiding their earnings than contributing to the support of the family.

Posted by: morningglory51 | August 8, 2007 1:03 PM

Let ABU go back to the mideast and live in his 14th century medieval fantasy land of 30 wives, honor killings,bombings of children, slaves,burquas etc. Good riddance.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 1:07 PM

I have had two ex's that absolutely refuse to support their children and pay bills, no matter how much money they make

that really speaks more to your horrible taste in husbands and fathers now doesn't it?

Posted by: anon123 | August 8, 2007 1:09 PM

Are people actually reading Abu Ibrahim's post, or just reacting off the cuff? Because he's pretty clear here that he doesn't want the government interfering in marriage at all. He says that women could have multiple husbands, men could marry each other, etc., because in America we don't need the Ayatollah or Saudi religious police telling us what to do any more than we need Christianity telling us what to do.

Posted by: ladylily21 | August 8, 2007 1:19 PM

"If I have a ridiculously inflated car payment, and my coworker doesn't, does that mean I should be paid more?"
"Why should even more money come from a coworker's pocket to cover the expenses of a child they don't know, don't care for, and are not invested in?" Posted by: Monagatuna | August 8, 2007 12:25 PM

Monagatuna, your car will not be paying for your generation's social security checks and will not be taking care of you and others in your generation when you are old. However, today's children will be tomorrows taxpayers, doctors, nurses, builders, cleaners etc. That is one of the the fundamental differences between a car and a child. A car is just for you. Raising a child is providing a benefit not just for yourself, but for society in general. That said, I agree that people should wait to have children until they can support them, or at least have no more than one child if they cannot afford to feed their kids.

Posted by: Dura | August 8, 2007 1:28 PM

Dura

"However, today's children will be tomorrows taxpayers, doctors, nurses, builders, cleaners etc."

"Raising a child is providing a benefit not just for yourself, but for society in general"

None of that is guaranteed; some of today's children will be tomorrow's thieves, rapists, and murderers. They will be in prison and won't be taking care of any old people or paying into Social Security.

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 1:43 PM

newhere- Actually it's the other way around. It's asking how it's done, not giving advice about how to do it.

The blog is written but not sent. I just haven't yet gotten ready for the inevitable evisceration.
-----------------------------------------
atb

"I just finished writing a guest blog that I was going to send to Leslie about making ends meet when one parents stays at home. Seems so entitled and spoiled when I consider that there are people out there who live check to check on minumum wage. Of course, they don't blog here, so I'm going to send it in anyway!"

Yes, DO send in your guest blog! The people who currently live on minimum wage may not blog here, but there are plenty of people who HAVE lived on minimum wage or less who blog here.

I will be more than DELIGHTED to comment on your budget tips!!!

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 11:01 AM

Posted by: atb2 | August 8, 2007 1:49 PM

newhere- Actually it's the other way around. It's asking how it's done, not giving advice about how to do it. "

"The blog is written but not sent. I just haven't yet gotten ready for the inevitable evisceration."

1. Don't use your real name.

2. Be prepared. Be very prepared.

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 2:01 PM

"None of that is guaranteed; some of today's children will be tomorrow's thieves, rapists, and murderers."

Certainly some, but not most. But I can guarantee you this. Without the children of today, there will be no doctor's or nurses or accountants or anything in the future. Raising children is a benefit to society. It allows society to continue. And as a society, we have, in many ways, decided to, in some measure at least, reward people who raise children, because we see the public good in that decision. This is not a slap against the childless, and they should not take it that way, because like it or not, they benefit, in the long run, from the work that parents put into raising children.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 2:01 PM

Ha! Abu has one of the most enlightened live-and-let-live attitudes on this blog.

Posted by: kk | August 8, 2007 2:01 PM

Are people actually reading Abu Ibrahim's post, or just reacting off the cuff?

Nope, I just had a few questions. Actually, I don't care what other people do, but if you say you want two wives for religious reasons and someone else says they are opposed to two wives for religious reasons, we really can't make a law saying it is okay without addressing religion. By the way, how far do we take it? Some religions think women have no rights and that little girls need to be circumcised.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 2:03 PM

Ha! Abu has one of the most enlightened live-and-let-live attitudes on this blog.


you really have not read very many of his posts. He uses crusader in nearly every post which is an AL QAEDA term of derision for non muslims.

Posted by: anon123 | August 8, 2007 2:06 PM

"None of that is guaranteed; some of today's children will be tomorrow's thieves, rapists, and murderers. They will be in prison and won't be taking care of any old people or paying into Social Security."

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 01:43 PM

that's somewhat correct, however, MOST of today's children will be contributing to tomorrow's society in a positive way. The more support these children have from today's society, the more they will be able to give back when their time comes. The argument I was trying to make is that when employers or government provide benefits to people with children, these benefits are not just for the parents of these children. Monagatuna was claiming that paying for someone's child's daycare is the same as paying for someone's car. A car will definetely not be contributing to tomorrow's society, a child most likely will. A claim that childless people are not 'invested' in someone else's children is false, it is in everyone's best interest that we have guaranteed future generations of workers.

Posted by: Dura | August 8, 2007 2:07 PM

"The blog is written but not sent. I just haven't yet gotten ready for the inevitable evisceration

Actually ATB, I would say that you probably won't be ripped apart since you are pretty much an even keeled regular here. But this OB so who knows, good luck, it sounds like a good topic.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 2:09 PM

"but if you say you want two wives for religious reasons and someone else says they are opposed to two wives for religious reasons, we really can't make a law saying it is okay without addressing religion."

Sure we could. We could say that the government will not interfere in the institution of marriage at all, and that people are free to follow whatever religion suits them without interference from the government. People who want 2 wives (or 2 husbands) are free to have them. People who want to marry people of the same gender are free to do that also. People who believe in monogamous, 1 man, 1 woman marriage are also free to do that.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 2:11 PM

I am so glad to hear some counter-arguments to the "but I have no children, so why should I have to suffer" crowd. While I believe in trying to be as fair to everyone as possible, it is very self-absorbed and short-sighted to think that our society shouldn't support the individuals who will be the next generation (and those raising them).

This reminds me of the folks in DC who get angry because a child is making noise on the metro or in a restaurant or something. It's as if they think their parents were the last generation allowed to have children (how very convenient that is!)

It's a reasonable decision not to have children, but it's unreasonable to think that society shouldn't support families with children, just because you might be getting less than they are. You are making the CHOICE not to have children (adopting is an option if pregnancy is not), so we could argue that you're just declining benefits that ARE available to you.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 2:16 PM

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 02:11 PM

but fortunately, we don't.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 2:20 PM

That's true Emily, but I doubt it will ever happen especially if people who want it call our government crusaders. (I am not saying that some of them aren't, but everyone, come on) As I said before, I really don't care what other people do, but to act like you don't want religion involved in the decision is silly. It is part of his religion to have more than one wife, which is why he wants it and why the non-LDS Mormons want it.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 2:22 PM

I have to agree with both Abu and Emily here; the US government certainly supports marriage, but only if it meets traditional Christian standards, as in, one man, one woman.

As far as I'm concerned, if two women or two men want to get married, go for it. They don't affect me one bit. Same with multiple men (or women) marrying one woman (or one man), or cohabiting, contract marriages (where they are married for x # of years with an option to renew after that), etc.

For that matter, as long as they don't go through the whole procedure called "marriage", there's actually nothing stopping any of the above from taking place. Two men can live with one woman, or vice versa, contribute their salaries together for all, raise children together, etc, and the government won't do anything about it. Only if they decide to get "married" does the government stick its nose into their business.

Posted by: johnl | August 8, 2007 2:22 PM

Another issue for discussion:

It's easy to say that folks shouldn't have kids if they can't afford them -- and it has a nice, logical ring to it. But the reality is that there are certain groups of the population who would then be destined to have very few children (and could be many people depending upon how you define "afford").

It seems like such a reasonable statement to make, but it has such dramatic consequences. I, for one, am pretty uncomfortable with it. There are many many important, contributing, members of society who grew up in poverty.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 2:25 PM

Only if they decide to get "married" does the government stick its nose into their business

Because then you enshrine the perversion into law. And then it gets protected status, benefits etc. So what goes from doesn't affect me turns into governmental protection and inevitably governmental coercion.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 2:27 PM


Emily

Then the next question is "what is a marriage?" Is it "an agreement among any number of partners of either or both genders for some purposes?" For what purposes? Why should it be recognized?

Or should we just do away with the notion of "marriage" in the legal code, and let there be no distinction between "married people" and say "people who share a house for convenience and cost reasons"?

These are serious questions - if you open up the legal concept of marriage to any group of people that want to claim that they're married, what does a "marriage" mean?

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 2:28 PM

Here's a conundrum: Is a person entitled to freedom of speech if they want to use that speech to advocate a government and society that would take away the free speech rights of others? This was argued in the 1950s-60s re Communists in the US -- and could likewise apply to Abu who rails against what he claims is a religion-based system in the US (despite the absence of the word "God" in the Constitution), yet he would welcome seeing Shariya (Muslim) law imposed.

You can't have it both ways, folks.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 2:29 PM

"It is part of his religion to have more than one wife, which is why he wants it and why the non-LDS Mormons want it."

My point is, in the USA, we are not supposed to have a state religion, and people are supposed to be able to freely practice their chosen religion without interference from the government. So banning a particular kind of marriage, whether it be polygamous marriage or gay marriage, is, in effect, making people default to the kind of marriage that is acceptable in Christian circles, and interfering in the rights of people of other faiths or belief systems, to live as they see fit.

I don't particularly believe in polygamous marriage myself, but my feeling is, as long as people are consenting adults, who am I to tell them what kind of marriage they must be in. As far as I am concerned, they should be free to do as they please.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 2:30 PM

The problem with Emily and John L is that they can't stand any limits on anything because their religion is tolerance. The rest of us don't live out on an island. You have to draw the line somewhere because under their slippery slope, things like arranged marriages and child marriages have equal weight as any other marriage. Their never can be a line because it doesn't affect me. YADA YADA

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 2:32 PM

johnl, same question for you as for Emily, if you please: in your scenario, what's the meaning of a "marriage"? Or do you believe that we should simply strike the concept from the legal code. Let people be "married" in the eyes of their particular religion if they want, but in the legal code - tax, inheritance, rights, etc. - everyone is an individual with no special states called "married", "divorced", etc.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 2:33 PM

If I could propose new legislation, it would provide for six months of PAID leave for wounded military personnel. In addition, I would propose three months of paid leave PLUS three months of unpaid maternity leave (totaling six months vs. the current 12 weeks of unpaid).

Posted by: mrsbookaddict | August 8, 2007 2:36 PM

If I could propose new legislation, it would provide for six months of PAID leave for wounded military personnel. In addition, I would propose three months of paid leave PLUS three months of unpaid maternity leave (totaling six months vs. the current 12 weeks of unpaid).

Posted by: mrsbookaddict | August 8, 2007 2:36 PM

If I could propose new legislation, it would provide for six months of PAID leave for wounded military personnel. In addition, I would propose three months of paid leave PLUS three months of unpaid maternity leave (totaling six months vs. the current 12 weeks of unpaid).

Posted by: mrsbookaddict | August 8, 2007 2:36 PM

So banning a particular kind of marriage, whether it be polygamous marriage or gay marriage, is, in effect, making people default to the kind of marriage that is acceptable in Christian circles, and interfering in the rights of people of other faiths or belief systems, to live as they see fit.

So since our law is based on the judeo christian tradition, abu can opt out and say I will follow sharia, since i am muslim? A very leaky boat you are putting yourself in EMILY.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 2:36 PM

"Abu who rails against what he claims is a religion-based system in the US (despite the absence of the word "God" in the Constitution), yet he would welcome seeing Shariya (Muslim) law imposed."

I am embarassed by the number of posters who are making assumptions about what Abu is saying simply based on their own biases against Islam. As others have argued, Abu appears to be saying that religion -- ANY RELIGION -- should NOT be used by the government for policymaking purposes. I am shocked at the prejudice being displayed on this board. Where does this poster find anything in what Abu is saying that implies he supports Sharia law? Completely the opposite, I think.

This is ridiculous.


Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 2:37 PM

sorry for the triple post - not quite sure how that happened or how to fix it

Posted by: mrsbookaddict | August 8, 2007 2:38 PM

Webster's dictionary has a good definition of what we consider a traditional marriage:

"the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law."

I would have no problem amending that definition to include same sex couples and even more than two people.

What people make of marriage is really up to them after that. Even in the current system, the traditional, monogamous, opposite gender marriage means many different things to many different people, and people treat it differently, according to their particular backgrounds, religions, cultures, etc.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 2:42 PM

Are you embarrassed that he keeps calling people "crusaders" which is the n word for muslims to refer to christians? Or that he is saying after we are all destroyed islam will reign. get a grip

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 2:42 PM

dcmom12, Abu favors marriages comprising one man and multiple women, but will reluctantly settle for those between one man and one woman. He opposes marriages of one woman with two or more men, or any other combinations. He isn't for freedom, he's for imposing his way.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 2:42 PM

"Slippery slope" arguments are too easy to make. 150 years ago we could have had a legal definition of marriage as "a relationship between a man and a woman with the intention of procreating ", and we could be having the "slippery slope" argument just to remove the language about procreation.

Obviously, the definition of marriage is socially constructed, and to the extent that social acceptance changes, the definition will change. We can take one step without falling off a cliff. I am sympathetic to the fact that we need to draw a line somewhere, and that will inevitably require judgment on what is a "valid" relationship. But I think society is much closer to embracing marriage between two consenting adults (regardless of sexual preference) than it is of accepting group marriage.

But it is naive to think that religion won't play a role in the social construction of marriage. I am not religious, so I'd prefer it didn't, but the reality is that it will. This is a democracy, and people's beliefs and opinions are shaped -- at least in part -- by their religious and spiritual beliefs.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 2:51 PM

Emily I see your point, but in some cultures their religion allows them to marry 12 year old girls, circumcise girls, beat women, etc. Where is the line of freedom of religion drawn? Every country whether they are a mostly Muslim country are a mostly Christian country has to draw the lines of decency somewhere. I am not saying it is indecent to have more than one wife, but I don't think that hiding behind freedom of religion is the way to go either. I also agree with mehitabel. I am sure that Abu wouldn't mind one bit to see this country's laws turn into his old country's laws.

By the way, I really do like Big Love, I watch it every week.

And dcmom12 I think Abu showed us how he felt by using the term crusader as pATRICK and others have pointed out.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 2:51 PM

dcmom12, Abu favors marriages comprising one man and multiple women, but will reluctantly settle for those between one man and one woman. He opposes marriages of one woman with two or more men, or any other combinations. He isn't for freedom, he's for imposing his way.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 02:42 PM

Mehitable,
Abu said that his religion opposes 2 husbands, but he also said this:
"Your religion, it may allow you to marry two or three husbands, why should government stop you?"
Sounds to me that while he wants to follow his own religion, he has no problem with your doing the same with your own set of beliefs.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 2:51 PM

Are you embarrassed that he keeps calling people "crusaders" which is the n word for muslims to refer to christians? Or that he is saying after we are all destroyed islam will reign. get a grip

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 02:42 PM

Yes, it's offensive. But two wrongs don't make a right, pATRICK.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 2:53 PM

By the way, I really do like Big Love, I watch it every week.

I have seen it and the thing that struck me was the tension between the wives. I think ANY man who would take three american wives is an idiot.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 2:54 PM

pATRICK is doing a fine job of cut and pasting the usual tired talking points from the FreeRepublic/World Net Daily crowd. Good job!

Posted by: emjsea | August 8, 2007 2:54 PM

Emily, Abu's just saying that. When push comes to shove, he doesn't mean it. It's against his religion.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 2:54 PM

Emily, you haven't answered the question. You say "what people make of marriage is really up to them after that." Fine, but the question was, what should the law make of marriage?

For instance, would you allow any group of people who claim to all be married to each other to file taxes jointly? e.g, this tax return covers Joe Smith, John Jones, Jane Doe, Susan Roe, Michael Johnson, Sally Public, and Steven Williams, who constitute a married "couple" (I couldn't think of a better word).

What about visitation rights in hospitals? e.g., of the above group, Joe Smith is injured and unconscious; do all of the others now have equal rights to visit Joe and to determine what medical treatment will and will not be provided? If just John Jones shows up at the hospital, can he say "pull the plug on life support" even though Jane Doe and Susan Roe would be appalled at the thought? Or does the hospital need a quorum?

The point I'm trying to make is that by allowing a "marriage" to expand to an arbitrary number of "partners" you're essentially invalidating the institution - you're taking away its special status in US (and other) laws.

Maybe that's what you want; I don't know. I'm trying to find out.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 2:54 PM

Someone asked how increasing the minimum wage can be harmful to minimum wage workers, so I will share some anecdotes from my experience. I think the main things that happen are reduction in hours, getting more work out of fewer people, and not giving raises.

I worked in fast food for 8 years, starting at the age of 16 and ending when I got my Master's degree. When I first started, the minimum wage was $3.35/hour. We had performance reviews on a regular basis (every 3 or 6 months, I don't remember the exact interval now) and got raises based on those. Four years later, I was making about 4.00/hour and feeling pretty good about being paid so much higher than when I had started.

Then the minimum wage went up to 4.25 and I got a raise--to 4.25. So, yeah, I got a raise, but I was suddenly making the exact same as a new hire. This bothered me because I had learned a lot and was very good at my job. Also, I was over 18 by then and could work more hours (kids under 18 couldn't work before a certain hour in the AM or after a certain hour in the PM.)

I transferred to a different store when I went to college and gradually went up to 5.25 there. I believe the minimum wage went up once or twice more during my years there.

They were always checking to see how busy the store was and if things were slow they would send people home early. Sometimes they sent home people who weren't especially good at their job or who weren't very versatile, but often they sent home people who were getting paid more per hour, because this was a way to save money.

One other cost-cutting measure was reducing the time we were there in the morning before opening. We opened at 6:00 and used to go in at 4:30 to get everything ready. They changed that to 5:00 at some point.

Posted by: Wioleta | August 8, 2007 2:55 PM

"Emily I see your point, but in some cultures their religion allows them to marry 12 year old girls, circumcise girls, beat women, etc. Where is the line of freedom of religion drawn? Every country whether they are a mostly Muslim country are a mostly Christian country has to draw the lines of decency somewhere."

I agree. And you can still make distinctions about what is acceptable, even if you allow marriage to be more inclusive. You can restrict it to adults, for example. Even in our own Judeo Christian culture, women were regarded as chattel and property until pretty recently. But we made distinctions there, also, as times changed and societal views about marriage and status of women changed.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 2:56 PM

Yes, it's offensive. But two wrongs don't make a right, pATRICK

It's not a wrong to call people out from different cultures whose beliefs and words insult us and attack our way of life, unless of course you are so timidly PC that the thought of doing so makes you want to hide under your bed. Your post attacked our biases but then gave his a free ride. That is cowardly and wrong.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 2:56 PM

pATRICK

I love Big Love, but you are correct who the heck would want more than one partner? My goodness, I would think you would be tired.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 3:05 PM

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 02:54 PM

Expertly done ARMYBRAT, congrats

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:06 PM

I'd amend Emily's Webster's definition of marriage this way:

"the state of being united to a person or persons as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law."

That definition says nothing about religion, why they got married or for how long. It's a legal contract, pure and simple; note the "contractual relationship" part.

That doesn't stop the bible-thumpers from having their "one man, one woman" marriage, nor does it stop someone from having multiple wives (or husbands), nor does it stop contract marriages, same-sex marriages, etc.

I don't really care what someone thinks about what a marriage "ought" to be, as long as their beliefs stay the heck out of everyone else's business. Our current views on marriage are predicated on Christian beliefs and are as discriminatory as they would be if they were based on any other religious views.

Posted by: johnl | August 8, 2007 3:06 PM

Yes, it's offensive. But two wrongs don't make a right, pATRICK

It's not a wrong to call people out from different cultures whose beliefs and words insult us and attack our way of life, unless of course you are so timidly PC that the thought of doing so makes you want to hide under your bed. Your post attacked our biases but then gave his a free ride. That is cowardly and wrong.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 02:56 PM


Wrong. I called people out for saying he had made statements that he never made -- statements that were assigned to him simply because of his religious affiliation. In fact, most of these were COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE of what he said. If you attacked his religion, in retaliation for his attacking yours, I'd be more understanding.

As I mentioned, I agree that his use of the term crusader is offensive. It's innappropriate and obnoxious.

But what I was commenting on was people's assumptions that, because he was muslim, he must believe in Sharia law etc.

Everyone else's arguments get taken at face value here, but he might as well write nothing, since some of you appear to know what he's saying without even reading his posts!

I see no reason for anyone to insult anyone else's religion on this board -- Abu included. But if you are going to offer a counter-argument, you need to understand what someone's argument is first . . . Some are so blindsided by his inflammatory language that they aren't even trying to hear what he's saying -- and yet feel perfectly justified in responding and telling others what he thinks.

I am hardly timidly PC. But personally, I'd rather someone insult someone else flat out -- and then you can debate whose insult is correct -- rather than pretend to engage in a debate when all you hear is what your preconceived notions are. I dismissed Abu's statements as the ravings of a bigot. Those of the other folks were presented as if they were rational counter-arguments to his statements, rather than flat-out bigotry. That bothers me more.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 3:09 PM

I'm not sure how "crusader" is offensive, exactly - our own president used the word "crusade" to refer to our so-called war on terror, so crusader would seem at least technically factual. But that's neither here nor there.

I agree with Emily to the extent that I think the government has no business telling two adults that they cannot marry each other. I do not extend that to group marriage for any number of reasons. I don't think group marriage is any more relevant to the concept of gay marriage than it is to the concept of straight marriage.

I also have no problems whatsoever telling people to take a hike when they try to use their religion to grossly impose on the rights of others (such as with child marriage, genital mutilation, wife-beating, etc.) I don't understand why PC has anything to do with it.

Posted by: ladylily21 | August 8, 2007 3:10 PM

John L - care to answer the questions I posed at 2:54? Or Emily, either of you.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 3:11 PM

JohnL,
Thank you. I could have not said it better. As far as I am concerned, the marriage can be whatever the contract says it is, as long as certain criteria are met. For example that the people getting married are consenting adults.

I really have no interest at all in defining what the marriage of other people should be. I frankly don't care that much.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 3:11 PM

pATRICK

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 02:54 PM

Expertly done ARMYBRAT, congrats"

You two should get a room!

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 3:12 PM

What about visitation rights in hospitals? e.g., of the above group, Joe Smith is injured and unconscious; do all of the others now have equal rights to visit Joe and to determine what medical treatment will and will not be provided? If just John Jones shows up at the hospital, can he say "pull the plug on life support" even though Jane Doe and Susan Roe would be appalled at the thought? Or does the hospital need a quorum?

As far as I'm concerned, if the situation is that complicated, let the marriage contract spell out who gets to make the medical decisions or pull the plug.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 3:14 PM

Abu doesn't present rational arguments, therefore they're not legitimate even if dcmom12 doesn't like the counter-arguments.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 3:14 PM

I don't think group marriage is any more relevant to the concept of gay marriage than it is to the concept of straight marriage.

You in a strange way missed the point but made it. You are fine with gay marriage but not group. Why? Because YOU drew the line there. The group people have as much right to demand marriage as a gay couple under your way of thinking. It is a slippery slope and THEY (gay marriage and group marriage) are completely relevant to each other whether you want to admit it or not.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:16 PM

"That doesn't stop the bible-thumpers from having their "one man, one woman""

Why be rude? Why call people names because of their beliefs?

You didn't call the people who wanted more than one wife a name.
.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 3:18 PM

Abu doesn't present rational arguments, therefore they're not legitimate even if dcmom12 doesn't like the counter-arguments.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 03:14 PM

There's a difference between a rational argument and one you agree with. Despite his inflammatory comments, I think his arguments have been fairly logical. I don't agree with them, but they're logical.

Now your arguments . . . that you better know what he thinks than he does ("when push comes to shove, he really thinks . . .) -- not so much.


Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 3:19 PM

dcmom12, You "open mind" is simply letting your brains fall out. Get a grip.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 3:20 PM

You didn't call the people who wanted more than one wife a name.
.

Because chrsitians won't pull out a knife, stab you in the chest and leave a note for insulting their religion and its PC to attack christianity but not islam.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:20 PM

Mehitabel -- You really should join a debate team. Your reasoning skills are really quite extraordinary.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 3:24 PM

Spelling Police!

"Because chrsitians won't pull out a knife, stab you in the chest and leave a note for insulting their religion and its PC to attack christianity but not islam."


Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 3:24 PM

ladylily21:

I'm not sure how "crusader" is offensive, exactly - our own president used the word "crusade" to refer to our so-called war on terror, so crusader would seem at least technically factual. But that's neither here nor there.

_________________________________

Yes, and then the President expressed regret for having used the term. It's an incredibly offensive term in context. If you'll recall, when the President used the term "crusade" shortly after 9/11, there were numerous stories along the lines of

____________

President Bush's reference to a "crusade" against terrorism, which passed almost unnoticed by Americans, rang alarm bells in Europe. It raised fears that the terrorist attacks could spark a 'clash of civilizations' between Christians and Muslims, sowing fresh winds of hatred and mistrust.

"We have to avoid a clash of civilizations at all costs," French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine said on Sunday. "One has to avoid falling into this huge trap, this monstrous trap" which he said had been "conceived by the instigators of the assault."
...
His use of the word "crusade," said Soheib Bensheikh, Grand Mufti of the mosque in Marseille, France, "was most unfortunate", "It recalled the barbarous and unjust military operations against the Muslim world," by Christian knights, who launched repeated attempts to capture Jerusalem over the course of several hundred years.

_________________________

"Crusader" in the context in question is no less an epithet than the n-word is, and saying that "well, the President used it, so what's the problem?" shows some level of naivete. Yes, the President screwed up by using that word and acknowledged it.

Thus, abu's use of "crusader religion" is along the lines of calling your local AME church a "n* religion".

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 3:26 PM

"It is a slippery slope and THEY (gay marriage and group marriage) are completely relevant to each other whether you want to admit it or not."

Why? Because you say so? You've offered no justification for your statement, so I have to assume you have none. But here's the justification for mine:

Gay marriage and straight marriage are both the marriage of one person to another. For hundreds of years, our society has permitted the marriage of two people. Our society is pretty much based around it - our tax system, our decedents' estates system, immigration system, child custody policy, etc. We also promulgate the concept of "soul mates" and "happily ever after for prince charming and cinderella" and all the other things that involve two people joining themselves together until death parts them. The sex(es) of the couple is/are irrelevant to the way marriage functions in our society; the bottom line is that marriage is two people.

If you start allowing marriage for more than two people, it wreaks havoc on all of those systems. It requires a complete rewriting of our social code. I have no problem saying that we as a society are neither ready nor able to engage in that experiment at present.

The sex of a couple is no more relevant to whether they should be able to marry than the race of the couple was fifty years ago.

It's a red herring to say that gay marriage and group marriage go hand in hand. Group marriage has no more to do with gay marriage than it does with straight marriage.

Posted by: ladylily21 | August 8, 2007 3:29 PM

"Thus, abu's use of "crusader religion" is along the lines of calling your local AME church a "n* religion"."

Crusader has become a bad word, but only because the Christian world has historically behaved in a way that their own term, "crusade" has come to mean something vile. Crusade used to be a tern that the Christian world glorified and exalted. Crusades were considered by Christians good and worthy endeavors. Christians came up with the word, not Muslims. You can't compare it to the n word, which was conceived and used by the oppressor from the very beginning to put down African Americans. If crusade is a bad word today, it is only because the Christian world has behaved in a way that gives the word a bad connotation.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 3:34 PM

dcmom12, I was trying to find a humorous way to say that beyond a certain point, having an open mind is not necessarily a virtue. Abu only want you to be open-minded for him, not vice versa. You have only to look at current efforts to decrease secularism in Iraq and Turkey, and the beat-back by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 3:35 PM

If you start allowing marriage for more than two people, it wreaks havoc on all of those systems. It requires a complete rewriting of our social code. I have no problem saying that we as a society are neither ready nor able to engage in that experiment at present.

I would agree for GAY MARRIAGE and GROUP MARRIAGE. You just picked gay marriage because that is your cause celebre. You just draw the line at your comfort level and ignore others, plain and simple.But it sounds good at a cocktail party and makes you look oh so enlightened.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:35 PM

Abu only wants... (my typo)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 3:36 PM

""Crusader" in the context in question is no less an epithet than the n-word is"

I see what you're saying, ArmyBrat. I guess it just doesn't offend me at all (despite the fact that I'm presumably a member of the "crusader religion"), so it's hard for me to believe that it's as much of an epithet as the n-word would be. Perhaps those who use it mean for it to have such connotations, but it doesn't really have the power to offend given the relative power of the people involved - since both sides in this debate are relative equals, it's hard for the word to wound as it might if one side was engaging in systemic oppression and abuse of the other.

But I see what you mean about the intent, and I agree that those who use it that way should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: ladylily21 | August 8, 2007 3:36 PM

I think its important to consider why the gov't recognizes and supports a social relationship. It is not simply because everyone is religious - it is because stable relationships such as those that GENERALLY occur in a marriage are good for society. It provides caregivers for those who are sick, it provides greater support both financial and emotional for the raising of children. These and many other social benefits result in financial savings and greater harmony for the whole of society married or not. I think that gay marriage would result in the same benefits for the whole. In the same vein, gov't doesn't support the collection of child support because they are nice. They do so because it saves money and creates better outcomes.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | August 8, 2007 3:37 PM

I agree with ladylily21 here. The whole concept of "slippery slope" implies gradients of difference. As a society, we've already used one definition to define marriage. That definition was once more strict than it is now. It's now legal to marry a person of a different racial group when it once wasn't. We opened up the definition and let it move one step without causing utter chaos and confusing the definition of marraige. I don't see why it COULDN'T happen again -- regardless of whether your personal view is that it SHOULDN'T.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 3:37 PM

Abu doesn't present rational arguments, therefore they're not legitimate even if dcmom12 doesn't like the counter-arguments.

In case anyone has missed the press release Mehitabel is now in charge of the blog and and responses should only be posted to those she approves.

Posted by: noname1 | August 8, 2007 3:37 PM

«Abu who rails against what he claims is a religion-based system in the US . . . yet he would welcome seeing Shariya (Muslim) law imposed.»

«Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 02:29 PM»

«I am sure that Abu wouldn't mind one bit to see this country's laws turn into his old country's laws.»

«Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 02:51 PM »

O Ladies, how many Muslims have come to America «just because» here, there is no Shari`a law!

Muslim law, it is only for Muslim countries. Hindu law, in some states in India, it is against the law to change from Hindu to Christian because too many untouchables, they were turnng Christian to get out from Hindu discrimination against untouchables, but it is India so there is Hindu law. Poland, a Catholic country, Catholic law, no abortion. So, Catholic law for Catholic countries, Hindu law for the Hindu country, Muslim law for Muslim countries, Jewish law for the Zionist country. USA, first amendment means no Shari`a law, but why not also no Christian «one man, one woman» marriage law?

Female «circumcision», it is not in the Koran, it is an African custom, when many other African customs died out or were abolished by crusader Imperialists from Europe, this evil custom should also have been abolished, it is illegal in Egypt, it hurts girls.

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 8, 2007 3:38 PM

You can't compare it to the n word, which was conceived and used by the oppressor from the very beginning to put down African Americans

Good old emily, manging to hit her liberal favorite targets in one post. Putting down christians, defending blacks, excusing islamic nuts and fitting in oppressor. All in one post. You must be tired.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:39 PM

moxiemom1

"I think that gay marriage would result in the same benefits for the whole."

No can do, it is PERVERSION.

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 3:40 PM

But pATRICK, you still haven't challenged anything I said. You've just made fun of me. That's not logic.

I'm not trying to be enlightened; I'm trying to be fair. I would no more tell a mixed race couple that they shouldn't be allowed to marry than I would tell a gay couple that; to my mind, there's truly no difference between a gay partnership and my own marriage.

Why do you think I'm wrong?

Posted by: ladylily21 | August 8, 2007 3:42 PM

You know the sad thing? ABU is posting here and he's nuts. Can you imagine what the illiterate muslim peasant must think? No wonder they find an endless supply of fools to bomb schools, churches, marketpalces, weddings, beaches.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:43 PM

Patrick,
From you, I will take that as a compliment. I would rather be a liberal than an ignorant, backward, and racist bigot.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 3:44 PM

ArmyBrat,

Emily explained how to handle visitation rights, etc. Let the marriage contract spell it out. Laws can be amended as well; they've been changed in the past to allow women to own property in their own name, they can be changed again. Just because some are saying "that's the way they've always been, that's the way they should stay" that doesn't mean they are right.

As for my use of the term "bible thumpers", I grew up in the "Bible Belt" where the attitude was "if you don't worship as we do, you are headed for Hell in a handbasket". Basically, they preached intolerance to anyone who wasn't of their belief system, and I don't buy into it one bit.

So, why is it such a big deal what two consenting adults do for some of you? Patrick calls anything not "one man, one woman" a "perversion", and he's made it clear that he sees any relationship like that in similar terms, married or not. Sounds like someone with a rigid intolerance streak to me; hence the "bible thumping" term.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Posted by: johnl | August 8, 2007 3:45 PM

You know the sad thing? ABU is posting here and he's nuts. Can you imagine what the illiterate muslim peasant must think? No wonder they find an endless supply of fools to bomb schools, churches, marketplaces, weddings, beaches.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:45 PM

mehitabel -- I appreciate your effort to interject humor. I was a bit defensive about the "open-minded" comment because of pATRICK's statement about my being so PC that I might as well crawl under my bed (or whatever he said). Sorry to take it out on you.

Having said that, open-mindedness means just that. I hear what everyone is trying to say and take it into consideration. I am not open-minded toward one group and not toward another. I have no white/Christian/American guilt here, and I don't care whether Abu wants me to only hear his side. I do not.

I just think it doesn't make any sense to have a blog in which we completely disregard what another person says -- and instead focus on what we think they say simply from their demographic characteristics. Instead, we could just have a blog that goes something like this:

I am a white female. . .
I am a black male . . .
I am a conservative . . .
I am a liberal . . .

And we can all just assume what the other is going to say. Abu was offensive, but that doesn't mean we all have to sink to his level. Then again, my comments would be much shorter if we did that . . .not a bad thing.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 3:46 PM

mehitabel -- I appreciate your effort to interject humor. I was a bit defensive about the "open-minded" comment because of pATRICK's statement about my being so PC that I might as well crawl under my bed (or whatever he said). Sorry to take it out on you.

Having said that, open-mindedness means just that. I hear what everyone is trying to say and take it into consideration. I am not open-minded toward one group and not toward another. I have no white/Christian/American guilt here, and I don't care whether Abu wants me to only hear his side. I do not.

I just think it doesn't make any sense to have a blog in which we completely disregard what another person says -- and instead focus on what we think they say simply from their demographic characteristics. Instead, we could just have a blog that goes something like this:

I am a white female. . .
I am a black male . . .
I am a conservative . . .
I am a liberal . . .

And we can all just assume what the other is going to say. Abu was offensive, but that doesn't mean we all have to sink to his level. Then again, my comments would be much shorter if we did that . . .not a bad thing.

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 3:46 PM

Emily, I have to disagree with you a bad word is a bad word no matter who came up with it.

For example, the "n" word is being used a lot these days by black youth in a non-derogatory way. Does that mean that it can be mainstreamed for everyone? Hell no, let you or me say it and see what happens. Words are just words until someone attaches a meaning to it either good or bad. The Christians of today are not the crusaders of the past. They should not be labeled because of what other people have done and the way that Abu used the word was derogatory. He doesn't agree with our government so he labels everyone who is a Christian as a crusader. And just because there isn't a power imbalance doesn't mean offensive words don't hurt.

You are also missing my point about female circumcision. I didn't say it was in the Koran, I said it was part of some people's religions. You know, there are many different sects of Christianity, so I think it is safe to say that there are also different views on Islam.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 3:46 PM

Re "what two consenting adults do," johnl: the issue Abu raises is with more than two.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 3:47 PM

Patrick calls anything not "one man, one woman" a "perversion", and he's made it clear that he sees any relationship like that in similar terms, married or not. Sounds like someone with a rigid intolerance streak to me; hence the "bible thumping" term.

Yes, I think men who have anal sex with each other is a perversion. i thought that long before I was a christian and you certainly don't have to be christian to think that either. Which most people do, since they have banned gay marriage in nearly every state.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:48 PM

Patrick,
From you, I will take that as a compliment. I would rather be a liberal than an ignorant, backward, and racist bigot.

Yawn, but you ARE an ignorant, backward racist bigot against white people and christians in particular.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:50 PM

How about two women, then, Patrick? Is that too a perversion in your eyes? Gay sex is gay sex, right?

Posted by: johnl | August 8, 2007 3:51 PM

dcmom12, Are you equally open-minded toward, say, the arguments of the Klan, anti-semites, the Taliban, American militia types, etc.? I'm guessing not. That would not be something of which to be proud.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 3:51 PM

Spelling Police!!

pATRICK

"Can you imagine what the illiterate muslim peasant must think? No wonder they find an endless supply of fools to bomb schools, churches, marketpalces, weddings, beaches. "

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 3:52 PM

pATRICK's most recent statements are so ridiculous that they are humorous -- I think he took my point that it's better to be flat-out bigoted and ran with it! Free license to spew his bigotry. . .

Are we sure he's not just a troll? Nobody REALLY thinks these things, do they?

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 3:52 PM

If the shoe fits, wear it.

John the problem is that you can't label everyone who goes to church. If you just said it to pATRICK, it would only be offensive to him, but the way you said it implied anyone who went to church or believed in the bible and that is not a fair assessment of Christians.

It would be like me saying that all people who wanted more than one wife was a sexual pervert.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 3:54 PM

Are we sure he's not just a troll? Nobody REALLY thinks these things, do they?

I would say the same about you, nobody actually wants to defend muslim nuts and say that their ideas are the same as western civilization of the 21st century?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:55 PM

Should straight couples who have anal sex have their marriages nullifed? Is it o.k. for women to provide oral sex to a man ,but not for men to do it to men? Who cares what people do in the bedroom?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | August 8, 2007 3:56 PM

I think a lot of Christians differentiate themselves from the specific classification known as Bible thumpers. Not all Christians go around preaching hellfire and brimstone to people who do not share their beliefs.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 3:56 PM

"Calling for a Larger Stay-at-Home Workforce," By Stephen Barr
Wednesday, August 8, 2007; Page D04
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/07/AR2007080701675.html?nav=hcmodule

The House has taken a big step toward expanding the number of federal employees who could become telecommuters and work from home at least one day a week.

During debate on an energy-efficiency bill, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) offered an amendment to require every federal agency to establish a telework policy. The measure would ensure that employees may telecommute "to the maximum extent possible without diminishing employee performance or agency operations"
...

Sounds like progress to me.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 3:57 PM

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 03:54 PM

IRISHGIRL. John L and his ilk have an axe to grind from their youth. He even admits it, consider the source when he makes these types of statements.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 3:57 PM

Emily, I disagree with your assertion on insulting words. When I was a Fed, I learned in all of the EEO classes I had to take that "harassment is in the eye of the beholder". I actually believe that. If I use the n-word toward or to describe someone with dark skin, and he is offended, then I was wrong. It doesn't matter that he would not have objected to the same word being used by his childhood friend. I know that word is offensive in that context; it's wrong.

Similarly, when abu is using the word "crusader" in that context, it's intended as an insult, I take it as such, and it's offensive. It doesn't matter whether there's a "power imbalance" between countries where the population is predominantly Christian and countries where the population is predominantly Muslim; it's an insult; he means it as such and it's offensive.

The situation holds in many cases. In south Louisiana, people of Cajun descent refer to themselves as "coon-*sses". It's an offensive term that they take as an endearment. But it's offensive when used as a put-down by an outsider. Nick Saban, who used to be the football coach at LSU and now holds that job at Alabama, referred to LSU fans as "coon-@sses" in a talk recently and the Governor of Louisiana demanded an apology.

Just as with John L's use of "bible-thumpers". It's an insult; he intended it as an insult; at least he had the decency to acknowledge that he meant it as an insult and so be it.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 3:58 PM

mehitabel -- If they were making arguments based on their bigoted views here, I would counter them by countering their arguments. Not by countering something that they didn't even say. In that way, I am open minded, although I don't think "open minded" is the term for it (that was your term).

That is . . . unless they were just spewing racial, religious, etc epithets. Then I would ignore them and/or suggest they were trolls (see above comment about pATRICK).

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 3:58 PM

Emily on a lighter note, I am eating easy cheese and crackers, what is on your snack list today.

Way bad for us, but I can't help it.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 3:58 PM

Posted by: dcmom12 | August 8, 2007 03:58 PM
Except of course ABU who she defended rigorously.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 4:01 PM

I am not sure any Christian would call themselves a "bible thumper". It's a derogatory term used for a certain segment of Christians, isnt' it?

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 4:02 PM

Well, Abu DOES spew sexism.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 4:04 PM

John L

As for my use of the term "bible thumpers", I grew up in the "Bible Belt" where the attitude was "if you don't worship as we do, you are headed for Hell in a handbasket". Basically, they preached intolerance to anyone who wasn't of their belief system, and I don't buy into it one bit.
____________

Been there, done that. I was a Catholic kid living for over a year in a part of south Mississippi where most of the "Christians" consider Catholics to be the worst form of sacreligious scum, and got lectured by neighbors and schoolmates all the time.

But the reality is that you have a belief system, and you're intolerant of those whose belief system differs from yours. And thus you use an insult to cover a whole class of people - even though you weren't clear that you were trying to insult a specific bunch of people, and it came across as insulting all Christian people in the world.

I'll give you credit, though - you acknowledge your intolerance and admit when you're trying to insult people. That's more than some of the other people posting here.

(I cannot believe this day. I think I've agreed with pATRICK more than all the rest of the times I've read this blog, combined. Whew! The day's almost over, anyway.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 8, 2007 4:04 PM

Army Brat,
Not all insults are the same though. I agree that abu meant crusader as an insult. I don't agree that the effect is as socially debilitiating and corrosive as calling black people the n word has been. They are both insults, but they are not equally damaging. If a little kid smacks you in the leg, you are not going to feel the same amount of pain as if a black belt in karate kicks you in the face.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 4:06 PM

pATRICK -- Get over it. I didn't in any way defend his insults. I ignored them. Just like I would ignore a 2 year old who was doing something just to get my attention. What I defended was his right to have his arguments heard.

Geesh, why are you so threatened by him? Or me, for that matter?

Posted by: sciencemom | August 8, 2007 4:06 PM

"Yes, I think men who have anal sex with each other is a perversion."

I think it is fine for pATRICK to have his own views. I think he could really only be called a bigot if he discriminated, harassed, or was otherwise detrimental to them. I don't think that saying you don't agree with something makes you a bigot.

pATRICK, you would never mistreat someone just b/c they were gay would you?

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 4:08 PM

My biggest gripe with liberals especially here is that they are hypocrites. Its ok to insult christians at will but not muslims, it's ok to insult white people freely but people of color must be defended at all costs, gays have the right to marriage but not mormons etc. It is a belief system where some are fair game and others regardless of the stupidity of their position as sacred cows.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 4:09 PM

Hey, Army Brat, maybe you can join Emily, pATRICK and me for some virtual flan this evening.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 4:10 PM

pATRICK, you would never mistreat someone just b/c they were gay would you?

No, i would not. Opposing gay marriage is not the same as wanting to physically hurt someone or harras them. But that falls on deaf ears here, where many have their dogmatic views firmly entrenched as to what white people think, christians think and republicans think

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 4:12 PM

Grammar Police!

pATRICK


"Except of course ABU who she defended rigorously.


Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 4:13 PM

Catlady,
I appreciate your efforts to broker a peace here, but I won't be a hypocrite. Patrick is never getting any of my flan again. But perhaps I can fix up some spinach for him.

Cheers!!

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 4:16 PM

irishgirl74,

I never said everyone who went to church was a bible thumper, nor did all church-goers have that kind of belief system. I made it clear I was making a differentiation, at least it was clear to me.

Now, if you can show where I said "all Christians are bible thumpers" I'll gladly apologize, but I doubt you can.

Now, I have seen quite a few people claiming to be Christians who were remarkably intolerant to anyone with a different religious viewpoint, but that is a totally different situation than what I was talking about.

Posted by: johnl | August 8, 2007 4:18 PM

But perhaps I can fix up some spinach for him.

I think I will decline your famous hemorrhoid spinach special. You can have it.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 4:18 PM

"No, i would not. Opposing gay marriage is not the same as wanting to physically hurt someone or harras them."

RIGHT. Calling gays perverts is not harrassment or mistreatment. Funny how you have a problem with the term bible thumpers, but see no problem with the term perverts. And you called me a hypocrite. HA!!

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 4:19 PM

I ignored them. Just like I would ignore a 2 year old who was doing something just to get my attention. What I defended was his right to have his arguments heard

Actually you had a running fight with catlady, who is probably the easist going person on this blog.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 4:21 PM

RIGHT. Calling gays perverts is not harrassment or mistreatment. Funny how you have a problem with the term bible thumpers, but see no problem with the term perverts. And you called me a hypocrite. HA!!

You are a hypocrite. But that has already been addressed. I do think their ACTIONS are perverted. I call them as i see them, unlike you who makes special allowances based on some neurotic need to be tolerant of everything.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 4:23 PM

ArmyBrat,

Actually, I am not intolerant of even those I would call bible thumpers. They can do their thing as long as it doesn't affect me, just don't expect me to like their particular brand of religious practice.

Posted by: johnl | August 8, 2007 4:24 PM

Patrick,
I don't see a need to be tolerant of everything. For example, I am not tolerant of you or people like you. As you said, you gotta draw the line somewhere.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 4:26 PM

You over-estimate me, pATRICK -- especially when I'm sitting in an 86°F (= 30°C) room! I'm off now to commune with my window air-conditioner for a while.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 8, 2007 4:26 PM

Patrick,
I don't see a need to be tolerant of everything. For example, I am not tolerant of you or people like you. As you said, you gotta draw the line somewhere.

Yawn, I am so wounded. Is that it?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 4:28 PM

Okay, a few hiccups today (pATRICK! you are a bad, bad boy). But overall, I LOVE REGISTRATION! What a pleasure to have something approaching a real discussion on the topic again!

Posted by: leslie4 | August 8, 2007 4:38 PM

leslie

"What a pleasure to have something approaching a real discussion on the topic again!"

Huh? Where, when?

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 4:43 PM

Leslie, I think you are right. BABABOOEY only called for your tar and feathering one time today. That is progress.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 8, 2007 4:44 PM

That doesn't stop the bible-thumpers from having their "one man, one woman" marriage, nor does it stop someone from having multiple wives (or husbands), nor does it stop contract marriages, same-sex marriages, etc.


That is the problem, you didn't identify who you were talking about, which leaves it open to interpretation and since we already concluded that we were talking about Christians it is safe to assume that is who you are talking about.

Posted by: Irishgirl74 | August 8, 2007 4:51 PM

Irishgirl,
Your cheese and crackers snack sounds delish. I am being bad and having chocolate ice cream right how. How's the heat in Ohio. We are roasting in the dc area.

Posted by: Emily | August 8, 2007 5:00 PM

irishgirl74,

Not all Christians are as intolerant as the ones I was talking about; they are a subset of the former group.

I admit, I am intolerant; of intolerance itself. Treat everyone fairly and equally, as you'd expect them to treat you, and I have no problems with your beliefs or viewpoints.

Posted by: jlnsford | August 8, 2007 5:02 PM

Interesting viewpoints.

My dad made my brother play football and watch nothing but Walker, Texas Ranger until I was born. Then he said one of us could be gay.

Posted by: newhere | August 8, 2007 5:28 PM

Exactly!

I have gotten a pretty thick skin.

And have gotten good at skipping over silliness as long as it is not third degree offensive.

This IS progress!

Posted by: leslie4 | August 8, 2007 5:53 PM

When I was a Fed, I learned in all of the EEO classes I had to take that "harassment is in the eye of the beholder". I actually believe that.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>...
Must be common HR policy- we have that here also. But I note that some get offended more than others when it is clear that complaint demands remedy. So they usually review the insult to make sure it really is non-PC or an insult. I personally think that we should pride ourselves on not being easily offended otherwise we risk ending up like spoiled children-perpetual victims of imaginary crimes. A lot falls in the taste category.

Marriage is a religious institution and a legal institution. Religion has its taboos and quirks but the state must only attend to practical considerations that protect the individual(s) and society at large (in that order). If folks out there need legally recognized harems then I recommend that they figure out how to handle the tax issues and power of attorney issue. It is a typically sad affair that our technology and social creativity outpaces our cultural/religious habits. But I am glad that the Pope finally let Galileo off the hook!

Posted by: ricinro85212 | August 8, 2007 9:28 PM

FMLA is all we have, and it is a sad statement that the richest country on earth offers nothing more than unpaid leave to its hardworking citizens, including vets with a big woo hoo of 24 unpaid weeks. We've learned to settle, and that's disgusting. While Europe offers paid time off for, oh, things like childbirth for up to a year, we cheer because we won't have a paycheck for months but at least we get to keep our job. Tragic what we've become. Tragic that that we aren't more demanding. CEOs now manage to make 600 times what the average corporate worker makes, and that's just peachy.

Posted by: lr757 | August 8, 2007 9:56 PM

Good last word, lr757. Agreed.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 8, 2007 10:47 PM

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