when pigs fly … expect the unbelievable

Yesterday, as the terrorist drove his 4-wheel drive through London, something almost as amazing was happening in the Tennessee state legislature.  Amazing good, rather than amazing bad.

Tennessee state representative Jeremy Durham of Franklin, TN, was expelled from the house as a result of a series of sexual harassment allegations.  The vote was 70-2. Republican Governor Bill Haslam thanked the house for its action.

The governor had joined other members of the house in requesting Durham to resign amid growing complaints of sexual harassment.  Durham denied it all and spoke on the chamber floor Tuesday asking his fellow representatives not to remove him.  (The Tennessee Attorney General had developed a detailed report; earlier in the year Durham had denied “most” of the incidents that the Attorney General’s staff had developed.)

I guess it was just a bad year for Durham.  He lost his primary bid so couldn’t run again, but being ousted will preclude him from qualifying for a state pension when he reaches retirement age.

It has been 36 years since the Tennessee house has expelled a sitting member.

We have made a dreadful mistake in capitalizing on gender wars.  As Governor Gandy often said:  “…we don’t want to be better than men, we just want to be equal to them.”

Do you realize that women often exacerbate gender wars by being aggressively non-male in situations where they should not be?  I’m all for saying “girls’ night out” but in a situation where men as well as women are welcome, just because a topic may be more “woman oriented” does not mean that men should not join.

In fact, we do need women to be involved in women oriented things because they are a large, vocal part of our population, and they can be allies.

It’s really not a “gender war.”  It is a battle between progressive thought and the rest.  Look at countries that find the US to be a threat.  When the modern world is seen as a threat, you can bet that the culture represented is a culture in which women have limited rights and men want to keep it that way.

We need to work to re-frame the gender war.  We need to re-frame it to progressives and the rest.  There is a great deal of research out there that suggests that gender balance is a good business imperative, a good politics imperative, a good social and cultural imperative.

Consider, just consider, gender-neutralizing your efforts and your vocabulary in order to pull in more allies.

 

 

 

The Legal Leadership Task Force of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership is sponsoring poll watcher training on THURSDAY, MARCH 23 FROM 2 TO 5 P.M. in the OKTIBBEHA COUNTY COURTHOUSE ANNEX.

The public is welcome.  The cost to the public is $15.  You may register at http://www.legalleadersseminar.com.

Forbes released a ranking for best states for business in 2016.  The ranking was based on business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.  We rated 49th in labor supply, 48th in economic climate, 49th in growth prospects, and 47th in quality of life.

Maine, at #49, with slightly more low scores than Mississippi, was ranked 15th in quality of life.  Even West Virginia, at #50, has a quality of life that Forbes ranked as 42.

Our strength:  business costs and regulatory environment.  We give tax dollars away to businesses who often do not stay successful or choose to remain long enough for us to see a return.  And we fail at regulating them, which leaves a lot of room for fraud, illegality and just bad government.

While Mississippi ranks #49 in labor supply, West Virginia ranks #50.  Neither state, apparently, is doing what it takes to educate and train suitable skilled labor.  But then, education is not something that appears very high on the lists of our governing bodies.

For the last two years, the State New Economy Index, published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, has ranked Mississippi as 50th (except for 2007 — when it finished 49th).  The index relies on 25 indicators, including the number of jobs in high tech industries, level of skilled labor, availability of broadband internet service, foreign investments in the state, and the education level of the workforce, among others.  Rob Atkinson, co-author of the study offered by the Washington DC based foundation, said:  “Mississippi was sort of left behind in the industrialization of this country [in the early 20th century] and now, in the new century, the world is changing drastically.  Low-cost-based production isn’t going to work anymore.”  He offered that there are fewer and fewer large employers these days that hire hundreds or thousands of the kinds of relatively low-skill workers that Mississippi regularly produces.

Not to beat a dead horse, but education and socialization are the answers.  Our people need to understand that education is the key to the future and that fact needs to be endorsed and inculcated as often, and from as many varied institutions and individuals as possible.

So, go out and proselytize our citizens on the value of education, and for that matter, proselytize our legislators, too!

 

 

For those of you who follow my Rosawinklepinktriangle blog on the Mozingo|Quarles website, please forgive me because this is a duplication, but it’s an important duplication.  It’s even probably worth reading twice!

President elect Trump has appointed Senator Jeff Sessions,the 3 term junior US Senator from Alabama, to be the next attorney general of the US.  I do not know Senator Sessions personally, but living in the same general area of the country, he is often on my radar screen.

Sessions (Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III) has been called by the “National Journal” the fifth most conservative US Senator.  He has supported a national amendment to ban same sex marriage (remember, he is from the state where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roy Moore, has been cited and suspended from the high court by the Court of the Judiciary because he told Alabama’s probate judges to defy the federal court orders on same sex marriage — the same guy, who in 2003, was taken off the bench when he defied orders to take down the 10 Commandments monument from the state judicial building) and has supported other conservative measures, including opposition to abortion and illegal immigration.  (Now, don’t get me wrong, I oppose illegal immigration, too, but our entire immigration system is “broke” and we won’t fix it with hostility.)

When Sessions was Attorney General of Alabama, he worked to deny funding to student Gay-Straight alliances at Auburn and the University of South Alabama.  It is positions like this one that earned him a zero (0) rating from the Human Rights Campaign.  And Oregon in particular is concerned because of his rather rabid anti-marijuana position.  (Apparently his rabid anti-marijuana sentiments came to light during his hearing before the Senate to become a federal judge in Alabama.  An African American man whom Sessions had worked with on some policy issues alleged to the committee that Sessions had said that he approved of the Ku Klux Klan until he realized that some of them smoked marijuana but that folks that smoke marijuana are “bad” people. This was reported by Ken Rudin, of NPR in his blog, Political Junkie,” posted on May 5, 2009.  He didn’t get confirmed.)

As the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee in the 110th Congress, while questioning Judge Sonia Sotomayor upon her nomination to the Supreme Court, he noted that “empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.”  (My understanding of the meaning of empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference — to walk a mile in those shoes, so to speak. I would hope that every judge in the land has empathy for every litigant.)  He also questioned her on her position relative to the use of foreign legal materials in considering US constitutional cases. (Scalia hated the use  of foreign legal materials; Breyer loves the use of foreign legal materials.  All I know is that after the US constitution was adopted, we relied on foreign legal materials all the time.  We had no case law of our own, so courts often turned to Britain for guidance.  British common law is still a moving force in our American rule of law.)  And he made it clear that he did not like the fact that Judge Sotomayor had served as a board member of Latino Justice (formerly known as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education fund) which was founded as a US non-profit in 1972, taking the lead from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund which Thurgood Marshall had established in 1957.

So, it sorta seems to me that Senator Sessions doesn’t like people who think differently from him.  He seems to actually simply disregard him.  I guess his empathy level is not too high.

I’m not even going to discuss his views on women.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 201,000 households have women as the sole or primary breadwinner; 39% of those households (78,038) are living at or below the poverty line.  More specifically with the NPWF analysis, if the wage gap were eliminated in Mississippi, on average, a working woman in Mississippi would have 77 more weeks of food for her family, nine more months of mortgage and utility payments or more than nine additional months of rent.

Women make up half of Mississippi’s workforce, but 72% of the state’s minimum-wage workers.  A minimum wage leaves a family of two below the poverty level.

We have a economic hole that our legislators should be busy digging us out of.  Perhaps enforcing wage parity for women in Mississippi — many of them primary breadwinners for their homes and families — would help.

Darrin Webb is not interested in the gender wage gap and its effect on Mississippi.  In case you didn’t read the last post, he is our state economist.  And he says that he doesn’t have time to deal with such a thing “unless…requested.”  So I asked a friend in the legislature if he would request a study on the gender wage gap in Mississippi.  And I am going to ask the same of our State Treasurer, Lynn Fitch.

I am sure both the legislature and our State Treasurer would expect a full study, but among other things, I would like for Mr. Webb to tell us:

  1.  What his calculation of Mississippi’s Equal Pay Day is?  (The nation’s is April 12 — the additional length of time women must work to earn as much as men did in the previous year.)
  2. How wage gaps trend in Mississippi.  (AAUW study shows that if the gap is 7% the first year of employment, it widens in future years such that a woman with a college education will make on average $1.2 million less than a man with the same level of education.)
  3. What sort of economic stimulus would occur in Mississippi if the state determined to close the pay gap?
  4. Would this impact women-owned business in Mississippi?
  5. How likely are women who receive a larger salary to spend that new income in their community?
  6. Could equalizing the gender wage gap allow more women to leave safety net programs like Medicaid and welfare?
  7. Has Mississippi done anything to promote an understanding of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?
  8. How would equal pay legislation interfere with the operation of the labor market?
  9. Is there a difference in the gap in STEM occupations?
  10. If all employed women in Mississippi earned the same as their mail counterparts of the same age with similar education and hours of work, would the poverty rate of women in Mississippi drop?
  11. How does the gender gap affect Mississippi families?  How would it change if the women in the families were paid equally?

It seems to me — a non-economist, that alleviating the gender pay gap could contribute to gains in the GDP, reduce poverty, and ultimately reduce dependence on federal safety-net programs.  It could potentially boost income tax collections and sales tax collections.

If there is anything you would like to know about the gender wage gap in Mississippi from our state economist, how about posting here and I’ll pass on all these inquiries to the State Treasurer and my legislator friend.  You never know when one action can pick up steam and make a difference.

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