Woman’s Work Is Never Done

For decades on end, woman have been fighting for their equality to be recognized, in one form or another, within the workforce. Former President John F. Kennedy endorsed it – President Barack Obama ensues to enforce it. The Equal Pay Act, signed by Kennedy in June 1963, was the latest attempt to put an end to gender discrimination pertaining to unequal wages earned by women versus men who are employed in identical positions that are of equal job content. President Obama sponsors John F. Kennedy’s Equal Pay Act (or EPA) for gender wage equality with the Paycheck Fairness Act (or PFA), a legislation to end the approximate 77% difference in compensated wages earned by women when compared to that of men. This bill was approved in January 2009 by the House of Representatives, however, the United States Senate fell short of 2 votes for the 60 votes needed in order to move the bill forward. The bill was presented again for a second time in June 2012. Consequently, the United States Senate only acquired 52 votes in favor of proceeding the bill to its final consideration. Why?

Republican Senators, of whom comprise the small minority of congressional voters opposing the PFA, believe that the bill could adversely affect small businesses by making it easier for female employees to file litigation suits in regards to wage discrimination. Ironically, out of the number of Republican Senators who blocked the bill, five of them were women: Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Senator Susan Collins, also of Maine.

In a statement made by Senate Republican Susan Collins on June 5, 2012, she believes the existing workforce laws are already sufficient: “We already have on the books the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Act in which I support, and I believe that they provide adequate protections. I think this bill would impose a real burden, particularly on small businesses.” In a similar statement made by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky supporting Collins’ viewpoint, McConnell states “We don’t think America suffers from a lack of litigation.” In another statement made by Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, he makes it clear that he does not support pay discrimination within the workforce based on gender, but instead focuses on the issue of workforce inequality in itself: “The question is, will the Paycheck Fairness Act actually address workplace inequality? And the simple answer is no.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act, in comparison to the Equal Pay Act, would provide remedies for the loopholes found within the act signed by former President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The bill would require wages to be paid based on education, training, and/or experience, not sex-based. This bill would also protect employees from retribution from their employers should they happen to discuss their wages for the purposes of evaluating whether or not a gender differential exists. Although American women have come a long way when it comes to putting an end to being shortchanged within their professions, it is still evident that women will have to continue fight even harder for their right to be heard and understood. As the old cliché goes: “Men work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.”

©2013 Learus Ohnine

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The U.S. Government Shutdown: Whose Fault Is It?

Imagine you are kidnapped – you are held hostage against your will by a belligerent abductor who threatens to kill you unless they receive everything they are demanding in exchange for preserving your life. Your fate lies in the hands of the negotiator, who then refuses your abductor’s demands, and in turn, kills you themselves. Prior to your murder, your abductor did proclaim to the negotiator of their intent to kidnap a hostage long time ago, yet the negotiator did nothing about this warning to stop this from literally happening.

Now imagine the entire United States of America being held hostage by a committee comprised of 535 law makers whose congressional position would not have been possible if it were not for them being voted into their appointed seats by the U.S. citizens themselves. Unfortunately, this congressional committee cannot seem to collaborate on pertinent issues that are supposed to be made in the best interest of the country as a whole. Ironically due to this committee’s poor negotiating skills, the fate of the country soon begins to quickly plummet on a downward spiral by the very same people whom the citizens have willingly chosen to represent them.

Both analogies describe what the current U.S. government shutdown is really all about. One side of the congressional table, or the predominately-Republican House of Representatives, wants to have their way by insisting their own budget plan will work out for bailing the United States out of $17 trillion in debt by dismantling President Obama’s health care reform law, while the other side of the congressional table, the predominately-Democratic Senate, will not agree nor negotiate the idea of altering anything pertaining to the Affordable Care Act. Since Congress could not pass a budget by the October 1st deadline, shutting down the government was the only alternative left for them to do until a compromised can be reached by both sides.

In the meantime, as of October 1st, approximately 800,000 federal employees will not be paid, however, 1.4 million active-duty military personnel will get paid but may not receive their paychecks when they anticipate to receive them. Food programs that provide nutritional vouchers to low-income pregnant women and mothers with children up to age 5 will not be funded. All Smithsonian museums, zoos, national parks and monuments (this includes the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the National Mall, and the Statue of Liberty) will be closed. And as if this wasn’t bad enough, Senior Service Programs such as “Meals on Wheels” which provides food to thousands of senior citizens may not receive government funding, energy assistance and weatherization programs for the low-income families
to help them stay warm during winter months may cease to be funded, and social security and supplemental income programs may see delays in check disbursements.

The bottom line: who is really at fault for the government shutting down? Every American who voted for a congressional nominee based simply on whether or not they were a Republican or Democrat is to blame. We put those people in office, therefore, we gave them their power – power that is apparently devoid of any genuinely bona fide cofunctioning abilities, especially in a time of crisis. Only we, the voters, can prevent these politically catastrophic conditions from ever happening again by voting based on policy and NOT party.

©2013 Learus Ohnine