Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

In case you missed it, MomsRising Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner was on CNN Friday morning brilliantly rebutting AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s assertion that the multi-billion dollar company needed to cut retirement benefits over two employees’ “distressed babies” and “Obamacare”.

Armstrong has since apologized for his comments and reversed his decision to cut employees’ retirement benefits. But, of course, this story is not over as it has highlighted a larger problem in our corporate culture.

The spouse of one of the two employees whose babies were blamed for the company’s healthcare costs, spoke out in a chilling piece for Slate. She walked us through the trauma that was the birth of her now one-year-old daughter and highlighted the obvious scapegoating of the sick and those who need healthcare by a company that reported record earnings on Friday.

Let’s set aside the fact that Armstrong—who took home $12 million in pay in 2012—felt the need to announce a cut in employee benefits on the very day that he touted the best quarterly earnings in years. For me and my husband—who have been genuinely grateful for AOL’s benefits, which are actually quite generous—the hardest thing to bear has been the whiff of judgment in Armstrong’s statement, as if we selfishly gobbled up an obscenely large slice of the collective health care pie.

Exactly. If employees can’t access the health insurance that they pay for…then what’s it for? Why pay premiums? Jeez…

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


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, I want to wish our Cynmill — and Laura! — a very happy birthday. Here’s to a fabulous day for a fabulous trio!

In case you missed it, Newt Gingrich won the Republican primary in South Carolina this past Saturday. Here are detailed results courtesy of AP.

Brain, Child magazine ran a bittersweet story on the complicated history and nature of sibling relationships.

This blog post at BlogHer, in which a new mom claims that “parenting isn’t hard” and that yelling at your children in public is tantamount to abuse, perhaps not surprisingly, garnered a lot of reaction in the thread.

A couple in the UK that refused to reveal the gender of their baby for five years, just announced to the world that they have a boy, according to Yahoo Shine.

Parents magazine published a comprehensive story on the lack of paid maternity leave in this country. MomsRising executive director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner was quoted in the second half of the story.

Actress Jessica Alba launched an organic diapering service called Honest.

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


Weekly Parenting News Roundup

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

What’s up all?

My family is in the thick of the holiday season, which means back-to-back birthday parties for kids with November and December birthdays plus holiday parties. I am already burned out and we are not even in Thanksgiving! Ayayay!

Anyways, some girlfriends and I are treating ourselves to the 10 a.m. showing of A New Moon today. I know, it is utterly shameless that moms in their 30s are cramming in a theater with teenagers — if they are up that early — to see this movie. LOL! Oh, by the way, there was also a lot on the news front this week, too.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, a co-founder at, wrote an essay on the real reasons women are not happy — as gleefully reported by media outlets.

In case you aren’t bidding for Leggo waffles online, Kellogg’s has reported that there is a Leggo waffle shortage in the country that will last until the middle of 2010, according to MSN Money. One of its bakeries was flooded.

A Canadian couple won a legal battle to exclude their three children from completing homework assignments, according to the Guardian in the UK. The couple, Sherri and Tom Milley of Calgary, Alberta, filed their lawsuit after years of struggling to make their children complete homework assignments, especially since there is no evidence it actually improves school performance. Do you agree or disagree with the Milleys’s actions?

We had a helpful thread on the best parenting advice we have received. What would you add to the list?

The Washington Post had a fascinating feature on how Arizona is the “wild west” of charter schools. Stanford researchers have found that while some charter schools are fantastic, others woefully lag behind traditional public schools.

Probably nothing garnered more discussion this week than our suggestions for People’s Sexiest Man Alive. Johnny Depp won the honor, but this Twilight fan was disappointed it wasn’t Robert Pattinson. (Hey, he is 23. That is still legal!) We also had a popular thread on our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Thank you, “Thank God for Air America,” for putting that up!

If your child received a scholarship to attend a state school and was also accepted to an Ivy League school, which one would you choose? In light of escalating costs at all schools, we had a long discussion on this. Was your college worth the costs?

In case you missed it, our Erika is having a BOY and not the girl an earlier ultrasound showed. Felicades mujer!

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


Women’s Happiness Isn’t A Dead Deer on the Dining Room Table

“He comes back with dinner, and he has shot it! They are happy. American women don’t have anyone hunting for them — that’s the real problem,” wrote author Michael Silverstein in the October 26th issue of the New Yorker.

That’s what he’s got: Men hunting for dinner?

Well then.

Over the last month, men like Silverstein and author Marcus Buckingham have been grabbing headlines on highly trafficked blog sites and appearing on the pages of well regarded magazines talking about women’s unhappiness in response to recent studies, including one published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, which show that women’s happiness over the past couple of decades is declining. And however subtly done, the message is the same: Women, you, and your fight for equality, are responsible for your own unhappiness.

During this same time period, the women of the United States quietly became half of the entire paid labor force in our nation for the first time.

It’s a Half-Lash: The backlash from women becoming half of the paid labor force.

In reality it’s not such a mystery why so many women are reporting that they are unhappy.

Despite recent reporting trends, just because women are now half of the labor force doesn’t mean that it’s time to stop fighting for equal pay for equal work, and instead pop Prozac while waxing philosophical about possible roots of unhappiness as we await hunting hubbies to bring in venison.

It’s time for the national media to interview some women. We know why we’re unhappy. Let’s break it down:

Economic inequality: Overall, women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar.  One study found that women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, mothers make 73 cents, and single mothers make the least, at about 60 cents to a man’s dollar — stats that should keep you up at night given that 80% of American women become mothers by the time they are forty-four years old. Studies show that passing family-friendly policies — like paid family leave and assessable childcare — lower the wage gaps.

Political inequality: Women comprise only 17% of our national legislature, despite being 51% of the population.  We now rank a low 70th of all nations in terms of women’s representation in national legislatures.

Why are women unhappy?  The fact that the feminist revolution is mid-course and some are calling it over just because women now number half of the labor force is a reason for unhappiness.  The fact that we don’t have family-friendly policies which most other nations take as a given is another reason for unhappiness.

We’re not moving forward, we’re falling behind. According to international gender equality ratings just released by the World Economic Forum, the United States fell four spots from last year. We now stand at 31st place, just behind Lithuania. Further, falling behind hurts us all: Right now there are only 15 women CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, despite that more than 50% of college graduates are now women and despite, importantly, that recent studies show that Fortune 500 companies with women in leadership are actually doing better fiscally in this tough economic environment.

It’s a Half-Lash all right.  But this blowback from becoming half of the labor force shouldn’t hinder women’s fight for equal pay for equal work, and for, yes, happiness.

With 50% of the labor force, women have come a long way. But we haven’t arrived yet.  Overall, women are increasingly educated and employed, but still must fight to pass family-friendly policies like paid family leave, affordable childcare, fair pay laws, health care for all, flexible work options, and paid sick days, which also protect those recovering from domestic abuse and assault.  Studies show such policies help everyone with both the fiscal and family bottom lines — businesses, non-mothers, mothers, women, and men alike — and passing family-friendly policies go a long ways toward taking the next step toward women’s happiness: Breaking down the Maternal Wall that stands in the way of most women ever getting close to the glass ceiling.  

The paychecks women bring in are increasingly needed to keep families financially afloat. It’s time now to bring our workplace policies up to date to the realities of a changed labor force so women, and men, can be happier and, yes, more productive overall.  

A long line of women in this nation have fought for equality. Just 89 years ago women got the right to vote. Yet we still need equal pay for equal work, proportional representation, fair treatment, and our own voices in the media.

A dead deer on the dining table isn’t going to solve this rampant unhappiness, but fair pay and family-friendly policies will make a significant dent.  Let’s get moving.


Netroots Nation Tidbits

The Netroots Nation Convention is over and I am headed to New Hampshire. I am so eager to see my babies!

While I had a fabulous time, it was different in that I did not have the kids and did not attend as many panel discussions since I have already been to the conference four times. I do, though, still get a thrill to listen to the keynote addresses and meet politicians like New Hampshire’s Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. (See photo above.) She participated in an on-stage discussion with Florida Rep. Alan Grayson and Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy. They discussed the legislative process, a few key issues like earmarks and the bank bailout, and how to “make change happen.” I especially liked this quote by Shea-Porter: “Democracy is not a spectator sport. Every single one of us has to be a part of it.”

Afterwards I phone-banked very briefly for healthcare reform. I encouraged people in Pittsburgh to attend a townhall meeting on Saturday and to call their member of Congress. By the way, if you want to get involved somehow whether it is phonebanking or attending a meeting, sign up at the Organizing for America website.

I hit the party scene on Friday and Saturday nights. On Friday night, I attended this outdoor block party with live band and DJ. I caught up with MomsRising’s Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner and eventually Joanne Bamberger aka PunditMom:

Funny story: I was wearing these cute gold stilettos and literally was standing up in them for hours. Halfway through the night, Kristin took one for the team and swapped shoes with me. I wore her comfy — although still cute — black low-heeled shoes. She walked around with my gold stilettos for at least an hour. While my husband pokes fun at me about the “crazy shoes,” I like to point out that Kristin received many compliments for them. Hey, no pain, no gain. :)

On Saturday morning, I got up for Valerie Jarrett’s Q&A with moderator Baratunde Thurston. Jarrett is Obama’s advisor and as Thurston joked the “mayor-in-chief of Chicago.” She has I don’t know how many job titles and sits or used to sit on a zillion boards in Chicago.

She was warm and personable and did not back down even from questions by hecklers. But she did stay on message and did not say anything at odds with the president, or at least anything that could be construed as “controversial.” She conveyed the president’s support for a public option in the healthcare reform plan and said he, too, shared our frustration and urgency at the way the public debate was going. She enlisted the help of everyone in the room to help convey the president’s plan to the public. Overall, she received a lot of enthusiastic applause.

Personally, I felt assured that the president I voted for stands for the issues he compaigned on. He just needs more than 6 months to tackle them all.

Did any of you catch the Valerie Jarrett keynote? What did you think? What was your favorite part of NN this year?