Friday, June 06, 2008

NCRW Friday Morning Plenary (Post 7)

Panel Discussion on What the Implications of Their Work on Policy and Women’s Lives

Sandy Morgen: Morgen points out the long tradition of putting responsibility on the individual in the United States. Citing a feminist economist, she notes that welfare has been all about making women job-ready – instead of making jobs women-ready, mother-ready, etc. She emphasizes the need to change the rhetoric around what is really wrong – with the system. She also discusses the “nonexistent” Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare program.

Joan Entmacher: Entmacher looks at the way “the Right” has portrayed tax cuts and growing the economy in the Bush administration. She points out that even the Right can’t cite the tax cuts as effective – even if they are presented as such in political rhetoric. Entmacher notes that given this legacy it is a hard sell to develop such social programs – but it is a critical issue. She recommends evaluating such investments like tax cuts on an individual and local level to shape policy debate and to effect change. She also muses on the difficulty of re-authorizing the child welfare bill and how it was effective to compare the tax cuts for millionaire versus funding for the childcare funding block grant to powerfully frame this debate. Entmacher urges advocates to refuse to accept when politicians say that there is no money for social programs – if there is money for millionaire tax cuts…well, it’s a persuasive (and proven successful!) argument to make in hearings. She ends by asking how the United States can position itself as not being able to afford robust social programs – when other countries with fewer resources are doing more (she cites Cuba as one example).

Linda Basch: Bacsh follows up on these comments by asking, “HOW CAN WE PUSH THE IDEA THAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS TO START INVESTING IN ITS PEOPLE?”

Kate Kahan: Kahan points out the need to recognize that individuals are worried about the state of the economy at the level of their own pocketbooks. She notes that we need to point out not only the fact and figures but also the SOLUTIONS. For example, the US is only one of four countries that does not offer paid family leave (like Swaziland and Liberia). She also makes the important point that there are so many other areas like pay equity and discrimination that need to be addressed as well – on a social, cultural, and political level. Kahan really makes a case for why the fight for all of these issues need to happen together – leveraging the intersectionality of all them. (I agree!) And she ends on the IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN RUNNING FOR OFFICE.

Gina Wood: Wood shares data about the lives of women of color. These sad statistic make a strong case for working to end institutional racism and to increase social policy to assist these women.

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