Healthcare Rant

Update: Good news! My sister was approved for a transfer to a hospital in Massachusetts. This facility has the expertise to tend to someone with her condition, and it is something my dad has been fighting for. We are all so thrilled. -Elisa

I need to vent.

Going through my sister’s illness right now — my family is trying to get Medicaid for her, as she has no employer-backed health insurance — I am really angry about our country’s lack of public health insurance. A friend of mine from Spain asked me why the United States still has no health insurance for its citizens, and I told her about the ugliness of the “Obamacare” debacle, in which the industry and the Tea Party came up with all kinds of excuses like “socialism” and coverage for abortions and the undocumented.

“We cover everyone, including the undocumented,” she told me.

Exactly. They may be a smaller country with less taxpayers and GDP, but they manage to give everyone healthcare, including immigrants and tourists. As for us, we continue to come up with excuses on why we can’t give even our own citizens this basic human right.

With that in mind, this story in the Washington Post came of no surprise:

The total number of people living in poverty — defined in 2010 as at or below an income of $22,314 for a family of four — is now at the highest level in the 52 years the statistic has been collected….The Census Bureau also reported that 16.3 percent of Americans are without health coverage, a share that officials called statistically unchanged from 2009.

Wow. That’s more people without health insurance after healthcare reform. I recently learned that the “pre-existing condition” stipulation doesn’t kick in until 2014. A friend of mine, her husband and their daughter are in this ugly situation, in which they lost their jobs and health insurance, and are covered by COBRA, which they can’t afford anymore. OTOH, they can’t get on California’s public health insurance, unless they drop COBRA for six months. Yet they don’t qualify for an individual private insurance plan to hold them over because of pre-existing conditions. “We’re screwed,” is what she told me.



Monday Morning Open Thread

Good morning, MTs. How is this first week of the new year shaping up for you?

I have a few stories that caught my eye for today – one inspiring, one depressing. The depressing one first: a generation of young, educated workers in Europe are frustrated, underemployed and worried about their future, according to this article in the New York Times:

The outrage of the young has erupted, sometimes violently, on the streets of Greece and Italy in recent weeks, as students and more radical anarchists protest not only specific austerity measures in flattened economies but a rising reality in Southern Europe: People like Ms. Esposito feel increasingly shut out of their own futures. Experts warn of volatility in state finances and the broader society as the most highly educated generation in the history of the Mediterranean hits one of its worst job markets.

Politicians are slowly beginning to take notice. Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, devoted his year-end message on Friday to “the pervasive malaise among young people,” weeks after protests against budget cuts to the university system brought the issue to the fore.

Giuliano Amato, an economist and former Italian prime minister, was even more blunt. “By now, only a few people refuse to understand that youth protests aren’t a protest against the university reform, but against a general situation in which the older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones,” he recently told Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper.

I’m sure this feeling of frustration isn’t just limited to Europe; this economic malaise is damaging across all demographics. But the position in many European countries is particularly sclerotic because of strict labor laws that employers avoid by hiring people – young people – on temporary contracts, which damage their ability to receive benefits like pension contributions, for example.

On a brighter note, I marvelled at this feature on British Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington. She seems absolutely amazing – particularly because she only came to athletic endeavors after graduating from college. She obviously has physical abilities, but also seems extremely mentally tough – you’d want to be, to compete in Ironman competitions, which feature a back-to-back “8km swim, followed by a 180km bike ride, rounded off with a full marathon.” I particularly found this statement by Ms. Wellington to be very inspiring:

“I love my body,” she declares. “I am more than content with it. I take a holistic view and see it not just as the contours of my skin but as the muscles, sinews, bones and everything else. This body has taken me to heights that I never imagined. I do love it, and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way.”

Isn’t that refreshing?

In other news, and in light of Erika’s “news for 2011” announcement, I’d like to say a little something of my own. I’ll be stepping back from front-page posting as of this week. But I’m focusing on launching a new project, a new digital financial magazine focusing on sustainability moves in Australian publicly listed companies. Some of you would know about this from the “Getting it DONE” diaries. I’ll be launching it in a few weeks, and I’m really looking forward to introducing it to you all and seeing if I have the chops to build a thriving business publication. But I need more time to focus on this very exciting, somewhat intimidating endeavor, and so I’m handing off duties here. I want to thank Elisa, Erika and Gloria for letting me have the front-page space, and don’t worry – you’re not rid of me yet!

What else is going on with you – as always, open thread, yadda yadda yadda.


Healthcare Reform, “Killing Babies,” and Belated Election News

We are still licking our wounds in the Daily Kos household. We expected it, but I, personally, have been racking my brain on how to reason with well-meaning folks on a few things.

For example, I do know people who voted Republican because of gay marriage and abortion. Never mind they in no way benefit economically from the Republican Party platform, and all have benefited from lots of government services like unemployment, medicare and special education in public schools. But they voted on social issues because that’s what they feel that they have control over.

Then, I am not sure what to make of these news stories:

According to the Wall Street Journal, small businesses have begun offering health insurance to their employees thanks to tax credits awarded by President Obama’s healthcare reform bill. Yet, a majority of small businesses oppose the legislation.

A father in Minnesota wrote a diary for Daily Kos asking for help on how to explain abortion and abortion-related politics to his 9-year-old. She was told by a friend in school that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate wanted to “kill babies.”

Never mind the fact that a state governor has little to do with US Supreme Court decisions. Never mind the debate on when a fertilized egg cell becomes a baby. Never mind the revulsion at carrying your rapist’s baby to term. Because no matter what your view is on any of those things, why would you plant that image in your 9-year-old daughter’s head? What the f!*k was she thinking?

Part of me wants to end my daughter’s relationship with this girl, part of me wants to wring this woman’s neck, but most of me just wants to know how the hell we got here, and what, if anything, could ever possibly make this woman learn restraint.

The first comment to the post was, “You can just explain to children that some people believe crazy and unreasonable things. Then show them something about the Salem witch trials.”

But this seems too simplistic to me. From my perspective these fundies who burned witches in the 1600s have a lot of power. It seems like we should talk to them, but how?

Of course, we must keep in mind that many people also don’t bother to vote, which is a separate rant. What would the electorate look like if they did? How do we engage these folks?

I know this is just random rambling and ranting. What say you to any of this?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The recession is having an impact even on Wal-Mart. According to MSN Money, foot traffic at U.S. stores fell slightly as customers grappled with unemployment and less money to make purchases.

Attention Bay Area moms: a Chilean friend of mine — our Poppygirl’s husband — just created a website to help Chileans in the aftermath of the earthquake. It is a place for people in the Bay Area to host events to help the people of Chile.  

Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog doled out tips on how to save money on maternity clothes. Where did you buy or acquire your maternity wardrobe?

US News & World Report ran a profile of a mother and sociologist who doled out these two tips to increase parents’ happiness: eat dinner together as a family and change your morning routine to avoid conflict.

As our Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids pointed out, the Senate and House will be holding hearings to possibly reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which regulates the introduction of new or already existing chemicals. The law has not been updated since 1976.

In case you missed it, D.C. now allows same-sex marriage, according to CNN.

In disappointing news: the Catholic Archdiocese in Denver just barred the child of lesbian parents from attending a Catholic school, according to Pam’s House Blend blog. I was heartened to read of the many Catholic protesters on the ground in Denver and Boulder condemning this decision, which was clearly motivated by prejudice. After all, the church is not expelling the students whose parents have fornicated, been divorced, practiced birth control, committed adultery — all which go against church teachings, too. I pray the progressive Catholics on the ground keep the heat on Father Bill and the archdiocese.

In somewhat related news: the moms over at Mamapedia recently doled out tips on how to get your 6-year-old to sit still in church, or at least “enrich” the experience for her. Of course, many of the moms said there is no way to get a 6-year-old to sit through a sermon. What do you think?

Also, did any of you catch movie critic Roger Ebert on the Oprah Winfrey Show last week? My husband and I were in awe at how technology has evolved to help him sound like himself. Ebert had his thyroid, salivary glands and jaw removed due to cancer four years ago. He hasn’t been able to speak without the aid of a computer. A company in Scotland developed a program that helps him speak — and sound — like his old self. Amazing.

Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, earned a $116.3 million in its opening weekend — a record for a movie in 3-D, according to the Associated Press. Will you watch it?

Hybrid Mom magazine had a video trailer of the upcoming movie Motherhood, starring Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver, that made me smile.  

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


Reflecting on sixth-grade hopes and dreams

A few weeks ago, a long-lost elementary school classmate scanned our entire sixth-grade yearbook from May 1981 and posted the contents on Facebook. In addition to the usual goofy photos, we all contributed brief notes for our “20th reunion,” describing our lives as we imagined they would be in 2001.

The reunion notes were good for a lot of laughs. Then, like the geek I always have been, I decided to take a closer look at how my sixth-grade classmates envisioned our futures. What I found is after the jump.

A note on demographics: this sample of 76 children is in no way representative of American eleven- and twelve-year-olds in 1981. The three classrooms of sixth-graders at my school included 73 Caucasians, 2 Asians and one African-American. We lived in middle-class or upper middle-class neighborhoods in the Des Moines suburbs. Almost everyone was Christian; mostly Protestant, I think, with more mainline Protestants than evangelicals. There were also quite a few Catholics and four Jews.


More than two-thirds of the kids (57) indicated that they would be living outside the state of Iowa in 2001. The most popular destinations were California (12), Colorado (9), Florida (4), New York City (3), Texas (3), Hawaii (2), Wisconsin (2), and Kansas City (2). Many other states were mentioned once: Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana. I was surprised that so few people mentioned Midwestern cities. It seems that in my day, if you dreamed of leaving Iowa, you planned on moving far away.

Only seven kids predicted that they would be living in Iowa in 2001 (not everyone mentioned a place of residence). I haven’t followed up on everyone who was in this yearbook, but based on conversations I had at my 20th high school reunion, I bet more than 10 percent of my sixth-grade class did settle down in Iowa eventually.

Five kids predicted that they would be living outside the United States: in Paris, Switzerland, Canada, Iwo Jima, and the planet Mercury. As it happens, I was living abroad in 2001, but at age 12 that wasn’t my plan.

A number of classmates mentioned being educated at out-of-state universities. Several of us, myself included, named schools our parents or older siblings had attended.


Family was a central feature of our future imagined lives. Almost two-thirds of my classmates wrote that they were married with children in 2001. Of these, some merely mentioned how many kids they had, while others were more specific about the names, gender and/or ages of their children. Only two kids mentioned being married without children. Quite a few people volunteered that their spouses were handsome or beautiful.

Several boys went out of their way to note that they were not married, but had girlfriends. With a ring of “stuff I’ve heard grown-ups say,” one of those also wrote, “I have no pets, they get in the way if you know what I mean.”

Many children predicted having pets in their families: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and even a skunk and a jaguar. Some had already picked out names for their pets or knew which breed of dogs they wanted.


We were living in a material world. Judging from this yearbook, it’s no wonder that my cohort grew up to be the most Republican-voting age group. About half the kids said they would be wealthy in 2001, including 11 who mentioned having multiple homes and 14 who mentioned specific brands of luxury car they would own (Cadillacs and Porsches were popular). The over-the-top conspicuous consumption included owning a private beach, living in a diamond house and for a few kids, multiple swimming pools. (In the Des Moines area, very few homes have a swimming pool.)

No one predicted being poor or struggling to get by, and no one predicted being of average wealth. As a rule, if my classmates didn’t say they were rich, they didn’t mention money at all in their reunion notes. However, I was intrigued by this entry from a boy I barely remember:

I’m 32 years old and I am a 9 year veteran basketball player for the Celtics. I don’t ask for a lot of money because I want to lead a normal life instead of being so rich. If I got into trouble for something, all I’d do is give them money and get out of it. I think that you should face problems, not money.

I assume he was echoing values he’d learned at home, though he may have been rebelling against behavior he’d seen or some scandal that was in the news in 1981.

Speaking of buying your way out of a jam, this entry amused me:

I, [child’s name], have just formed a new company. The 1001st of my empire. I have mines and mines of gold and silver and etc., in Africa. A few days ago, I got into trouble with the Navy. I bought them a battleship to make up for it. They made me an honorary admiral.


We were an optimistic bunch. One boy and one girl said that they had been elected president by 2001. More than a dozen predicted being professional athletes, including four NFL stars, four NBA players, a golfer, a tennis player who had won the Grand Slam 12 times, a soccer player, a baseball player, and a professional horseback rider. Other glamorous careers included singer (1), actress (1), clothing or fashion designer (3), horse breeder (3) and astronaut (2).

There was some overlap in these fantasies, because quite a few children imagined pursuing more than one career. For instance, one boy said he would work at his mechanic shop when he wasn’t playing football for the New England Patriots. Here are a couple of my favorites:

I have just achieved my goal!! I was elected head spy for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) I was a former car repossesor. I guess I just like exciting jobs!

I have been elected President of the United States. I am also the world’s best football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I live in Wyoming and have a part-time job as a truck driver for Halls Trucking Company, (which I plan to buy later on).

White-collar careers dominated the fantasy futures of my classmates. Nine people predicted that they would own one or more companies in 2001. Six said they were teachers, and we also had five doctors, five veterinarians, four lawyers, two nurses, a computer programmer, an architect, and an archeologist.

Girls who mentioned their husband’s careers tended to be married to doctors, lawyers or successful businessmen. That was true for those who envisioned themselves working as well as for those who planned to be homemakers. (Many children at my elementary school had stay-at-home moms, and consequently a fair number of my female classmates predicted that they would not be working outside the home in 2001.)

In addition to the two kids who predicted being elected president of the U.S., two girls saw politics in their future. One said she would be “a politician working up to run for governor of Texas” in 2001, having previously been named Miss Texas, Miss USA and Miss Universe. The other said she would be a successful writer and psychiatrist in the Des Moines suburbs, adding that she had “been nominated, not elected, governor.”

She wrote those words a year before Roxanne Conlin was nominated, not elected, governor of Iowa, and 13 years before Bonnie Campbell was nominated, not elected, governor of Iowa.


Technological innovations featured in many of the reunion notes. One person predicted living in a solar-powered home, while two kids said they owned robots that did all their work for them. Eight children mentioned space travel as part of their lives, and two alluded to colonies existing on the moon by 2001. Several hoped to be astronauts who visited other planets, or in one case a different galaxy. One boy put a futuristic spin on business ownership: “Two weeks ago I got back from piloting one of my space shuttles from one of my nitrogen mines in space.”

Several of my classmates predicted that they would do ground-breaking work in their fields. One boy said he had “made a great discovery in the field of orthodontia.” Another planned to be an architect “designing a bridge that will connect Germany with Florida.” (He estimated the cost of that bridge at “twenty quadrillion dollars.”) One girl described life as a famous archeologist, whose finds were displayed in her own New York City museum. I was also impressed by the boy who envisioned a future as a zoologist, “most noted for my discovery and translation, with a computer, the language of big cats, such as: jaguars, leopards, lions & etc.”

One of the ambitious boys wrote, “I am a millionaire, and am working on a time machine. I have every part except one piece. I went into the future and came back to tell my wife all about it. She gave me a big, big kiss and five kids for it.”

Another kid showed some potential as a sci-fi writer:

I am just leaving for an Inter-Stellar meeting of Crackulation (Crackulation is the dividing of a planet to steal power and minerals) and other such subjects on the planet of Klepulat, the ninth planet of Merculeep. Our goal is to stop Crackulation on the dead planet of Earth, of which I am from. My wife, Alesla and two children, Meck and Hillery, are coming with me on this very important trip. We are leaving now from our spectrobe house on Mercury at 7306 Amoco Drive.


For the most part, the reunion notes were upbeat. However, some kids seemed to reflect anxiety that was present in their lives. Very few of us mentioned our parents in our reunion notes, but one boy who did wrote, “My parents are alive but divorced.” He was also one of the boys who predicted that he would not be married in 2001.

Only one person mentioned any of our sixth-grade teachers in our yearbook. Reading part of her paragraph, I wondered if she had observed a grandparent or other elderly relative in decline: “I have visited Mrs. [teacher’s name] in her electric wheelchair. In a way she is doing just fine, but in another ….. (never mind).”

Unemployment was high and rising in 1981, and this boy may have absorbed the job insecurity and stress of adults around him:

The year is 2001. I’m 31 years old going on 32. I just got a job at Eastern Spacelines as a pilot. It pays pretty good, but I could have gotten it better. I live in Ottawa, Canada. I have a wife and two children, a boy and a girl. I just got back from the Columbia (or space shuttle) to the moon. I visited my mother who lives on one of the moon colonies. I just hope that I can keep this job.

One of my lifelong friends wrote this entry, obviously influenced by the 1970s oil shocks, the U.S./USSR superpower rivalry, and media coverage of pollution:

It’s the year 2001, I am 32. Gas is extinct and everyone rides bicycles. I have a Cadillac and a Mercedes bike, which I ride with my fur coat. I am married to a rich doctor. My aunt died and I inherited $80,000,000. I own six news stations and four parts of Russia. (In the war of 1995, between the U.S.A. and Russia, we divided up Russia after our victory.) I live in beautiful, smoggy, radiation affected L.A.

One other classmate also alluded to the U.S. and Russia having gone to war at some point before 2001.

My own 20th reunion note was way off, envisioning a future as an attorney working for a large New York law firm. A fifth-grade essay I came across a couple years back was closer to the mark, for some reason.

Can you recall what you wanted to be when you were in sixth grade? Share your own hopes, dreams and memories in this thread.


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Well, you learn something new every day. The parents at my son’s school are mulling a “no-candy” policy due to some health concerns in the community. I don’t have an opinion either way as I never pack candy in Ari’s lunch box, and really, he can survive 6 hours without a treat. But one mom spoke in favor of a ban because her daughter suffers from “Geographic Tongue,” or tongue flare-ups due to too many sweets. I had never heard of it and actually looked it up on Wikipedia. Yup, it’s a real condition.

Unless taxes are raised or payments shrunk, the unemployment fund of 40 states are in danger of going broke within the next two years, according to the Washington Post. Also in the Washington Post: The final vote for the Senate version of the healthcare bill is slated for tomorrow 8 a.m. ET.

There is a fascinating debate over at the Economist as to whether “Europeans would be better off with fewer holidays and higher incomes.” Living in the country of two-week vacations and no mandated sick days, I say to the Europeans — noooo! Don’t do it! But that’s me. What say you?

This is so sad: The mother, aunt and siblings of a Mexican soldier responsible for taking out one of the country’s most powerful cartel leaders, were gunned down in their home yesterday, according to the Associated Press. Also by AP: Kim Peek, the man who inspired the Oscar-winning movie Rain Man, died at the age of 58. He died of a heart attack.

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


Unemployed College Graduate Sues Her Alma Mater

I love my alma mater. Boston University not only gave me a lot of free money and “only” $20,000 in student loans, which I paid off this year, but it opened many doors for me.

I would probably feel differently if I were Trina Thompson. Thompson is suing her alma mater, Monroe College in New York City, for $70,000 in tuition plus $2,000 in personal compensation after failing to secure work in an atrocious job market. From MSN:

While the suit’s outcome is pending, it does raise questions as to whether colleges have a responsibility to help students find jobs after graduation. With the average public in-state student forking over more than $26,000 in tuition and fees alone, do colleges owe them something in return?

Absolutely, says David Kimmelman, general manager of careers and jobs for Avenue 100 Media Solutions, Inc., a marketing firm that targets colleges and universities.

“This is the area where colleges are failing our students miserably,” he says. “In the United States, we pay more money for our children to go to college than anywhere else in the world, and for what? This year only 19 percent of 2009 college graduates [who applied for jobs] have found full-time employment.” The figures he cites are prior to graduation, per the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Jennifer Grinder is, unfortunately, not part of that 19 percent. She graduated last December from Northern Michigan University with degrees in political science and public relations and spent three months after graduation searching for work in a related field, with no luck. Grinder has since moved back in with her parents and returned to an accounting assistant position she held last summer in order to start paying off her $40,000 in student loans.

“I’ve done two internships but it doesn’t make a difference in this hard economic time,” she says. “I live at home because I make $9 an hour and there’s no way I could pay rent and my $400 [per month] student loan bill with that… We justify taking out student loans in large quantities thinking that we’ll get good jobs. It’s almost like we’ve been lied to.”

I plan to follow Thompson’s suit, although I doubt it will go anywhere. Can you imagine the can of worms that would open if every unemployed college student could sue her alma mater?

That said, the MSN article raised a good point: All these colleges advertise their “90 percent” student employment rate, but they are not being truthful as to what these numbers mean. Are these students actually employed in the fields that they studied? Did they find work right away or were they forced to bunk with mom and dad for a while?

Also, $26,000 for in state tuition and fees? Yikes! That is double what public school in my home state cost just 10 years ago. Ow, ow, ow! It is so wrong for students and families to fork over this kind of money in this economy.

What do you think? Should colleges be held accountable if their students can’t find work?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Meryl Evans over at the Gigaom Network offered tips on how to manage work in the short time the kids are at school. Good one.

Here is another good one: “The Five Biggest Lies in the Health Care Debate” by Newsweek.

Good food for thought: The Washington Post ran an editorial in honor of Labor Day about how we Americans say we love hard workers but have a hell of a way of showing it.

Sigg CEO Steve Wasik has issued an apology for selling “BPA-free” water bottles with the toxic, estrogenic chemical in them, according to Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids.

This Associated Press story about Christian couples sharing e-mail addresses caught my eye. I have some family members who share one family e-mail and now that I think about it, they are fundamentalist Christian, too. The point of one shared e-mail address is to do something else together as a couple or a family. Do you have a shared e-mail address?

One more AP story: Unemployment affects the old and young alike — but in different ways. For example, the recent college graduate is likely to be passed up for positions to older and more experienced people and also fall into debt and lose their homes. The elderly are likely to be passed up for positions to younger, lesser-paid workers and also face higher medical expenses and dwindling savings.

President Barack Obama will address the nation’s students at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET today. We will have an open thread for it an hour before it runs.

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


Record Number College Students Appeal Financial Aid Decisions

Sorry to be the bearer of so much bad news lately. Even as some political pundits declare the recession over, I keep reading all these “trend” stories about cash-strapped families. Take, for instance, this article in the Washington Post about a record number of college-bound students appealing their financial aid awards.

Mick Gulli lost his job as a beverage distributor in May. He didn’t know how he would send his middle daughter, Layne, back to Virginia Tech, where her junior year will cost $19,700 in tuition and fees, room and board, transportation and books. Then his wife saw personal-finance expert Suze Orman on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” explaining how cash-strapped college students could appeal for more aid.

Gulli appealed, and Virginia Tech delivered: a package of $9,820 in grants and $6,500 in loans, thousands more than Layne would have received without an appeal….

Appealing for more aid was a little-known and seldom-advertised option in higher education until this year. U.S. Education Department officials wrote to financial aid administrators in the spring, when most aid decisions are made, urging them to “reach out to your students . . . particularly those who seem to have hit a rough patch, to make sure that they know there may be ways that you can help.”

Because of lost income, thousands of students across the Washington area qualify for more aid this fall than they were awarded this spring. Aid formulas project a student’s 2009 needs based on 2008 earnings. But unemployment nearly doubled in Maryland between June 2008 and June 2009, from 4.4 percent to 7.5 percent, with similar spikes in Virginia and the District.

Have you had to appeal a financial aid decision? Did your child’s institution deliver?


Monday Morning Open Thread

Happy Monday, MTs. Hope it’s a good week for you.

Just two stories today – firstly, while the Australian economy has avoided falling into recession, unemployment has ticked up, and apparently stay-at-home parents – moms – are disproportionately being locked out of returning to the paid workforce, according to this report on the ABC.

A report by the Australia Institute estimates there’s almost 400,000 stay-at-home mums aged between 25 and 44 who want to go back to work but can’t.

The report is not about mothers who want to be stay at home to care for their children because they’re not classified as unemployed.

The report’s author, David Richardson, says 80 per cent of Australia’s hidden unemployed are stay-at-home mums who want to work outside the home.

DAVID RICHARDSON: Mainly they are women who are not recorded as being unemployed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics because their childcare duties are in the main prevent them from starting work within the week.

So they fail to miss the ABS definition of unemployed but on further investigation, the surveys show that they are still willing and able to work.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Federal Government has been tackling unemployment by offering retraining for the retrenched. But Mr Richardson describes those programs as ‘blokey’ and says they are inappropriate for stay-at-home mums.

In his report he calls for specialised training that will help women get and job and says they also need better childcare.

How about you, MTs? Any of you experiencing difficulty returning to the paid workforce? What services are available to you and what would you like to see?

In other news, one guy with a job is not having a good week in the PR area – Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi is getting what appears to be his just desserts as his soon-to-be-ex-wife decides she won’t get mad – she’ll get published.

SILVIO Berlusconi’s wife demanded a divorce because she was tired of him repeatedly lying about his relationships with other women, she has disclosed.

In her first interview since announcing that her 20-year marriage with the Italian Prime Minister was over, Veronica Lario said that she was also fed up with seeing him make a fool of himself in public.

”I can no longer stop him from making himself look ridiculous in front of the world,” she said. ”I’ve reached the end of the line. Ten years ago I wasn’t ready but today I can say with my head held high, ‘I’m separating from this man’.”

Ms Lario described her fury after learning that her husband had gone to the 18th birthday party of an aspiring lingerie model, Noemi Letizia, in a disco outside Naples in April.

So, what’s up with you?