Saturday Open Thread

It’s the weekend, y’all!

The Occupy Wall Street movement is going global, with protests planned in 951 cities throughout the world today, including London, Rome and Auckland. Will you be attending?

As it turns out, Rick Perry’s son would be right at home at one of these protests, because according to his mommy, he is part of the 99%. LOL and WTF???

And finally, congrats to our tessajp, who gave birth to beautiful Lilah Elizabeth yesterday. Now we’re just waiting for sherishu’s Clara to come join the party :-)

What are you up to this weekend? What’s on your mind today?


A No-Win Situation in a Bad Economy

This article hit too close to home as I do have unemployed family members who are unable to support the children that they have. It has always seemed contradictory to me that this country looks down on people who have abortions, yet also looks down on them — and even jails them! — for being unable to support the children that they have.

This is the case of these dads profiled by MSNBC, including an Iraq War veteran who has been unable to pay child support because he lost his job. Read on:

Thousands of so-called “deadbeat” parents are jailed each year in the U.S. after failing to pay court-ordered child support — the vast majority of them for withholding or hiding money out of spite or a feeling that they’ve been unfairly gouged by the courts.

But in what might seem like an un-American plot twist from a Charles Dickens’ novel, advocates for the poor say, some parents are wrongly being locked away without any regard for their ability to pay — sometimes without the benefit of legal representation.

Randy Miller, a 39-year-old Iraqi war vet, found himself in that situation in November, when a judge in Floyd County, Ga., sent him to jail for violating a court order to pay child support.

He said he was stunned when the judge rebuffed his argument that he had made regular payments for more than a decade before losing his job in July 2009 and had recently resumed working.

I am sure there are dads out there who are just a-holes that don’t want to pay, or want to get back at their children’s mother. But what about dads who legitimately have no money to pay for the care of their children? Should they receive any reprieve?


Live Chat with Ellen Moran!

I am pleased to announce that we are holding a live blog chat here at MotherTalkers today between 9 a.m. PT/ 12 p.m. ET and 10 a.m.PT/1 p.m. ET. We are speaking with Ellen Moran, chief of Staff to Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.

Prior to being appointed to the position on April 23, 2009, Ellen was the White House director of communications during the early months of the Obama Administration. I have seen her described as a “progressive’s progressive” online, having served as executive director at EMILY’s List and held a leadership position within the Democratic Party.

On a personal note, Ellen is married and has two children. Surely, she has a lot to say about the balancing act of a working mother with a job that is critical in supporting the economic stability and growth of this country as well as on the world stage. I thought it would be great to pick Ellen’s brain on not only the economic concerns close to our hearts, but how she balances her interests and activism with the responsibilities of motherhood. Please join us by dropping your questions now!


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up? Let’s call this the State of the Economy Edition.

What would you rather do after dinner? Watch TV or read white papers on the economy? The Washington Post ran a story on a family who is doing the latter, even having their 13-year-old and 11-year-old write their own white papers on the economy.

A friend in the labor movement sent along this interesting essay in the Huffington Post about the plight of workers today and the precarious position of labor unions. I agreed with the writer, Amy B. Dean, that we are at a crossroads in our economy, in which we must make it easier for information workers to unionize, but the unions also have to acclimate with the times. The next time I see a bumper sticker that reads, “If you like your weekends, thank the unions,” I think I will scream. I don’t know anyone — blue collar, white collar, or otherwise — who works only 40 hours a week, and automatically gets the weekends off. Anyways, this essay is good food for thought especially since we just celebrated labor day.

In somewhat related news, Timothy Noah over at Slate wrote about our growing income divide. The richest 1 percent of Americans now make 24 percent of our nation’s income. Noah plans to write a series on this divide. Stay tuned…

Mamapedia Voices ran a story about the most common birth defect. Pop quiz: What is it?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Company Holiday Party — RIP?

I haven’t attended a company holiday party in a while. But I remember my and DH’s old workplaces hosting them every year.

According to Washington Post financial columnist Michelle Singletary, this office tradition is dying along with the economy. Here is what she had to say in a recent “Color of Money” newsletter:

Maybe the fact that more companies are ditching the annual holiday party isn’t a bad thing.

Instead of the company bash, that some love for its opportunity to show off and others loathe attending, many businesses are canceling their annual holiday festivities and are donating time and money to charities. Or, they are combing their holiday cheer with charitable endeavors.

“With the economy still sputtering and rounds of layoffs fresh in everyone’s minds, lavish holiday galas seem as old-fashioned as dial-up Internet connections,” writes Vickie Elmer in A different sort of holiday cheer (Nov. 22).

“Everyone’s more serious now,” said Jo Bennett, partner in Battalia Winston Amrop, a New York executive-search firm that has asked Corporate America about holiday party plans. About 81 percent of companies surveyed said they plan a holiday celebration — the lowest level since the survey began 21 years ago.

At least some of us don’t have to worry about buying a holiday dress.

I was surprised the number was as high as 81 percent especially with the number of job losses this recession. Did your or your partner’s company throw a holiday bash this year? How did it differ from previous years?


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos. Don’t forget to recommend us!

What’s up?

We talked about our favorite Christmas movies. Believe it or not, there was an actual story in the press about children who have had their tongues stuck on poles a la A Christmas Story.

In related holiday news, our Gloria wrote about procrastinating on Christmas shopping because she can’t afford to buy many gifts. Instead, she is making lists differentiating what she wants to buy and what she can afford to buy.

Katy Farber over at the Non-Toxic Kids blog had a comprehensive list of green gift ideas.

Our Suzanne had a fun diary on “super good music.” An iTunes certificate anyone?

Pat of butter in a sea of grits — isn’t that a great handle? — wrote about everything you know and don’t know about family leave in the United States.

There were many studies out this week. One had to do with how soy may actually help keep breast cancer from recurring. Another one reported by Reuters was how cell phones do not give you brain cancer. That was a relief, at least to me, since my cell phone is my only phone.

In case you missed it, Daily Kos’s navajo posted pictures from the SF Kossacks holiday party. There were a few MotherTalkers pictured, including myself, Amy and Shenanigans. Also, I posted the Kos family holiday photos this year.

Finally, here is an opportunity to meet Bay Area MotherTalkers. We are getting together at Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco this Tuesday at 7 p.m.. Please join us!

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

The private sector shed 169,000 jobs in November, slightly down from the 195,000 jobs lost in October, according to Reuters.

USA Today exposed government loopholes that allowed recalled beef tainted with E. coli and salmonella to make it into school lunches.

The Obama administration approved the first human embryonic stem cells for experiments by federally funded scientists, according to the Washington Post. “The National Institutes of Health authorized 11 lines of cells produced by scientists at the Children’s Hospital in Boston and two lines created by researchers at the Rockefeller University in New York. All were obtained from embryos left over by couples seeking treatment for infertility,” the Post reported.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

What I suspected: When stocks are up, this usually does not bode well for workers, according to MSN Money. Many of these companies report higher earnings by laying off workers.

Andrew O’Hehir at Salon wrote the second installment of his series on homeschooling.

Fellow MTer “ginabad” wrote a story for her blog Mom-Blog, wondering if it was okay to let the school photograph special needs children.

First Lady Michelle Obama is slated to appear on the Jay Leno Show this Friday, according to Salon Wires. Will you be watching?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Should the Rich Get Scholarships?

FOX Sports recently had an article on how Jeff Jordan, the son of legendary basketball player Michael Jordan, will probably return to play b-ball at the University of Illinois in Champaign. This is the sentence in the article that set off a firestorm in the comments: “Jordan walked on at Illinois before winning a scholarship last year.”

Here is a taste of the comments:

I have 3 kids in college. The State of Illinois has greatly diminished the amount of MAP grant money that is available to deserving students, and this has made it extremely difficult for many students to continue in college at this time. My kids are struggling through with student loans that will be debts for them for years to come because they will be in moderate paying jobs TEACHING!  Yet Jeffrey Jordan, son of the mega-rich Michael, get a full scholarship to U of I. And then the NBA will draft him and he’ll get mega bucks too.  I don’t get it at all. And if he’s not playing basketball at this time, why is the scholarship in effect?  I find this DISGUSTING and a real slap to the face of the students out there who have to work in University cafeterias and bookstores to pay their way through school. Jeffrey Jordan didn’t even attend a public high school – he went to Loyola Catholic Academy in Wilmette – but now the taxpayers of Illinois are footing his bill for college? Get real – this whole system is so broken. And then Governor Quinn and tons on other state officials go spend a ton of money to go to Copenhagan for the Olympics bid, and the college students lose their MAP Grant money.  This state is so messed up. We are in a budget CRISIS of m****ive proportion, and Jeffrey Jordan gets a full ride to U of I. Here’s how to fix the state financial crisis – give scholarships on to people in financial need, stop spending taxpayer money on foolish trips for politicians, and stop handing out LINK cards to SO many people who are driving brand new Cadillacs and $60,000 SUV’s that don’t deserve them….

Are you serious? Please tell me I read that right. He “won” a scholarship? This kids dad could pay the tuitions for every player on the team and not even blink and they award this kid a scholarship that could have gone to a kid who doesn’t have a silver spoon in their mouth?

There were a lot of similar comments. But there were a few folks who defended the rights of rich people to pay less in taxes and earn scholarships as opposed to those folks on “entitlement programs.”

Yes the rich pay more than there share.  Last time I looked the USA was a capitalist country.  Those who complain about the wealthy are usually ignorant socialists.  If you don’t like Capitalism, move.  Go live in Russia.  As you tax the wealthy more they will find ways to lower their income to avoid the tax, along with donate less money to charity.  So tell me Sammers, what do the wealthy get for paying more taxes?  Does their vote count for more?  You need to turn your attention away from the wealthy and start looking at the people abusing entitlements.  That is where the problem truly lies.

“Sammers” did respond:

If you think the filthy rich pay their share of taxes, think again -long and hard. The top 10 % only pay 75 % of the taxes in America.They own 99% of the wealth. This means that the people with only 1% of the money and wealth pay 25% of the taxes. Shouldn”t the 99 percenters pay 99%. On top of that by the government’s own word 75 percent of the corporations in the USA paid $0 in corporate taxes in 2007. Now you see why most of us are hurting?

Whew! It is definitely an interesting read.

Initially, my reaction to the news was “meh.” I was not surprised Jordan was a good enough player to receive a scholarship and the university is probably banking on his name to sell tickets to the games. In this economy, you can’t fault them for that.

But I never considered how it would look to the many working families in the U of I system struggling to pay their bills. What do you think? Should the children of rich people like the Jordans receive full-tuition scholarships?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Texas spends, on average, $7,818 per student, which is the seventh lowest in the country, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. New York spent the most per student ($15,981) and Utah the least at $5,683, according to the article.

It’s official. Octomom Nadya Suleman just a signed a contract to allow a reality show of her 14 kids for $250,000 over three years, according to a blurb in the New York Times. Also, the New York Times wrote a “trend” piece about stay-at-home mothers returning to the workforce out of economic necessity.

Salon ran an interesting article on the demise of Crocs. Apparently, sales are way down so the company lost $185.1 million last year and shed 2,000 jobs. Do you or your children still wear the shoes? I never got into them, but Eli has a pair.

Pregnant women will be encouraged to get the swine flu shot this fall as they make up 6 percent of swine flu deaths, according to the Associated Press.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?