Year End and New Beginnings by Angie King, SLO NOW coordinator.
Year End Thoughts and New Beginnings
by Angie King, SLO NOW coordinator
I have a bumper sticker on my car that says: “Ignore your rights and they’ll go away.” How true.
Take, for instance, our First Amendment rights, which are being tested all over the country in the Organize Wall Street encampments and marches. Discussions about income inequality and the heavy-handed tactics by lending institutions, corporations in general, and governments are (finally) being taken seriously by the media. That’s a good thing.
Keep it up! Speak out!
are other rights at stake in America these days, as well, brought on in part by
that same income inequality and the same heavy-handed tactics by moneyed
interests. Corporations and big money
increasingly influence legislators. If
the 99% doesn’t speak up and exercise our rights as citizens, we become part of
Next year is
an election year. For the New Year, I offer some thoughts on how to exercise
YOUR rights to counter all that influence being brought to bear on your elected
officials. We can’t change the
composition of the Supreme Court, but we can influence who gets elected to the
House and Senate, and particularly the Presidency. Those people then can change the composition
of the Court, and they can enact legislation that benefits all of us, not just
become one of the collaborative partners of an effort to organize and rally
women’s votes for the 2012 elections. It
is an extraordinary opportunity for women to show that we ARE a voting bloc! Here
are 10 laws the new Congress will have the power to extend or eliminate. Which way that goes is up to us.
Right to Vote: the trend towards
restricting access to the polls will disenfranchise as many as 32 million women
of voting age who do not have documentation with their current legal name and
who would be barred from the polls. This
is a blatant attempt by the right wing to keep liberal voters from the polls,
thus, ensuring election of ever increasingly conservative officials.
2. Social Security Act: proposals have been introduced to gut the
current program. This will disproportionately impact women’s economic security. For
unmarried women including
widows age 65 and older, Social Security comprises 50 percent of their total
contrast, Social Security benefits comprise only 38 percent of unmarried
elderly men’s income and only 31 percent of elderly couples’ income. In 2008, 46 percent of all elderly unmarried
females receiving Social Security benefits relied on Social Security for 90
percent or more of their income. In
2006, only 23 percent of unmarried women aged 65 or older were receiving their
own private pensions (either as a retired worker or survivor), compared to 30
percent of unmarried men. Social
Security is a self-financed program and does not add to the nation’s deficit.
Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Right Act: Think Lily Ledbetter. The conservative Supreme Court has cut down
the intended benefits of this act, requiring Congress to pass laws to overturn
those discriminatory and repressive decisions.
Women’s pay still lags behind that of men; women are still not promoted
in proportion to their presence in the workforce; sexual harassment is still
rampant. These laws should be liberalized,
4. Medicare: Often the only health care for women
receiving social security, it too is in danger of being gutted in the name of
reform. (see Social Security)
5. Medicaid: In the wake of the economic downturn and the
rise of income inequality, Medicaid is being cut just when more women and their
families depend on it for medical care.
Poor people are often the same people disenfranchised by voting
restrictions, and in general are on the margins of society and less likely to
vote. Legislators and corporations know
and exploit that situation when determining budget cuts.
X, Family Panning: This year, the
House voted to defund this program (although it didn’t go any further); nine
states have reduced funding and New Jersey completely eliminated it. Apparently some legislators equate
reproductive health care with abortion and therefore are against it all,
putting millions of women at risk for socially transmitted diseases.
7. Title IX of the Education Amendments: Regulations and budget cuts are destroying
the intended effect of this act to provide equal access to sports for women.
8. Roe v
Wade: Need we say more? We all know the bills introduced (and in
large numbers passed by states) to restrict access for women to abortion
services. Contraception seems to be on
the chopping block as well.
9. Violence Against Women Act: Funding will expire at the end of 2011; no
bill to extend and re-authorize this act has been introduced.
10. Affordable Care Act: efforts are underway to repeal “Obamacare”
before it even has a chance to work. Restrictive regulations threaten to gut
important provisions and threaten preventive care services.
What can you
do? Take Action! Give your time and money to one or more of
the groups supporting women’s rights in any of the above areas. Write letters to your elected officials. Be an outspoken voice for YOUR rights so
they don’t go away. Happy New Year.