Vote Smart!

Early voting ends this Tuesday, October 30th. After that you have to line up on November 6th.

Our ballot in Louisiana contains NINE Constitutional Amendments, so it’s best that you become informed so you can vote intelligently.

This link will give you the background on the amendments and explain – in plain English – what they’re all about.

Again, be prepared and vote smart.

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In A Bind

I’ll admit a couple of things, first off.

Last night, I didn’t watch the second presidential debate. I’ve sadly become cynical about this election. I already have a darned good idea of how I’ll be voting, and it won’t be for the guy talking about…what was it again?…

Women in bondage?

A book of mail-order brides?

Great bookmakers (pun intended and not intended) who happen to be women?

Well, no, I mean this:

ROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women? 

ROMNEY: Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men. 

 And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?” 

 ROMNEY: And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women. 

 I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

I want to believe that the man had some good intentions. It would be nice, after the past couple of weeks (hell, couple of months, couple of years, couple of millenia – take your pick…but I digress) that women around the world seem to be having.

I need you to get out of bed and go to school this morning for Malala.

Grumbles and a slight roll over from the bed.

 Hala. I need you to get out of bed today, without any whining, without complaining for Malala.

…and then a grumpy, whiny voice comes from under the blankets.

Mom, what are you talking about, what is Malala.

No. Not WHAT is Malala…WHO is Malala.

Malala is a girl, just like you. She lives in Pakistan. And all she wants to do is go to school and learn. She wants to get out of bed every morning and learn. And the other day, she was coming home from school, and horrible men who think she should NOT be allowed to learn shot her. They shot her because she is a girl who dares to think she deserves an education. She dares to think she is just as smart as boys. She dares to think she should get to read every book and do every math worksheet and write every paper and do every report and learn and learn and learn just like every boy in Pakistan. But some of the people there do not believe that girls should learn. Malala stood up to those bullies. She stood up to the mean, horrible men who believe girls should not be allowed to go to school. And she went to school. So you, you will get out of bed, and you will go to school without one whine, without one moan, without one complaint…because you are lucky to live in a country where you CAN.

Slowly my daughter got out of bed. Looking at me with confusion. She got dressed with me watching, and we went into my room where she brushed her teeth and continued to get herself ready for school. So far, she hadn’t said a word. She was still processing everything I had told her. The silence was deafening.

I wasn’t sure I was going to tell her. She is only seven. A seven-year old should be not burdened by the evil in this world. But she is also old enough to understand that she is extremely fortunate to be able to get an education in a world that still does not treat its females with the respect and reverence it treats its males.

Would that this were confined only to Pakistan. It’d be easier to dismiss it as something belonging to another country, or another religion. Another religion…ohhh, I wish I had that smokescreen. While the Obama-Romney debate was finishing up, however, I got this news from a member of the Jewish clergy:

On the eve of the Jewish New Month of Cheshvan, 16.19.12, at 11:00 PM Anat Hoffman, Chair of Women of the Wall, was arrested while leading a prayer along with members of Hadassah, some of whom have travelled to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate Hadassah’s centennial convention. Over 250 women joined Women of the Wall for a late night prayer which started off beautifully, until Hoffman was detained during the Shema prayer. Hoffman was held in police custody for over 12 hours, much of the time in handcuffs and has sustained bruises from violent and aggressive treatment while detained.

This morning, 17.10.12, at 7 AM, while Hoffman was still detained, Women of the Wall gathered for the monthly new month prayer service. Though the services went smoothly and quietly with no disturbance, police arrested Lesley Sachs, Director of Women of the Wall and board member Rachel Cohen Yeshurun, in the middle of prayer. The two women were detained and questioned for several hours. Upon release, the women were asked to admit to the crime of disturbing the public order, which they refused.

In court proceedings today, following her detainment, Anat Hoffman was accused of disturbing the public peace for singing out loud at the Western Wall. She was finally released and issued a restraining order from the Western Wall for 30 days.

The leadership of Women of the Wall remain committed to their struggle to gain the right of all women to pray at the Kotel, each according to her own custom, with Torah, Tallit and voices raised in song. Violence, intimidation and threat will not deter the group of women from joining together and praying together to celebrate every new Jewish month at the Western Wall.

Rosh Hodesh, the celebration of the new month, is sacred to Jewish women. So is their right to pray, to take on the obligations of prayer (tallit, kippot, tefillin) so long reserved only for men, to say the blessings that were meant to be said only by men, to gather and read Judaism’s most sacred text at Judaism’s most sacred site. Their only crime at the Kotel? Doing those things as women.

And then we go right back to Romney.

Sure, I laughed over “binders full of women.” So did most of the internet. So did Tumblr. Hell, I may have helped create the Sacred Krewe of Binder Femmes as a marching bunch via Twitter. Look for lots of 36-to-48-to-50+ inch bindered broads come Halloween in New Orleans.

My question once all our giggles die down…

When do we do something other than make jokes about these acts and these lies?

And in Romney’s case, I DO mean lies.

I know where I can keep on keeping on on all of this. In the voting booth next month.

dinner conversation

Last night I was at dinner in someone’s home and the following is the abridged version of a portion of dinner conversation. I say abridged because I was so mad that one, the guest had the audacity to discuss politics in a room of people this person had never met, save one, and two I didn’t want to go ballistic and embarrass the host so I left.

Guest: I was at the VA hospital today for (some random event) and was able to see the blueprint of the new hospital.

Me: Oh really, tell me about it…

Guest: Well on Banks street, the old oak trees were saved, and some of the buildings will be built around the oaks, so there will be a corridor down the middle – a shaded promenade with benches and such.

Me: That sounds nice!

Guest: While I was there today, some of the (nameless) dignitaries were discussing how the Charity Hospitals were being dismantled and they were looking at private corporations to take over the care of the patients.

Me: Oh really? Well after Katrina, when Charity hospital was closed down, all the patients had to go somewhere so they were seen at Ochsner, East Jefferson – it didn’t work well and those hospitals lost a lot of money…

Guest: Yeah, one of the doctors at (nameless hospital) was telling me how after the storm, a gun shot wound patient broke into some pharmacy storage area to take medicine, so that didn’t work out too well with “those” (emphasis guest) patients at the private hospitals. So its going to be difficult for “those” (emphasis guest) patients to find somewhere to go.

Me: I honestly don’t see how the state could possibly shut down the Charity Hospitals? What are they going to do with the new hospital? Sell it?

Guest: Well there will be no more Charity system, they are doing everything right now to close all the hospitals. It won’t be an issue especially if Obamacare is defeated in November when Romney wins.

Me: Its called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Plus there is no guarantee Romney will win.

Guest: Well if Obama is re-elected, there are ways to defeat the health care bill.

Me: Oh Really? You know, we really shouldn’t be going there (having political discussion with strangers) at dinner…

Guest: Well how do you think Obamacare is going to be funded? The federal government will need to put up $50 billion dollars they don’t have to pay for it…

At this point I excused myself and helped clear the table and began washing dishes. The guest continued carrying on political discussion with the others remaining at the table which I could hear from the kitchen. I did as much as I could to assist the host –  but very soon after when another guest excused themselves it was my cue to leave too.

I find it extraordinarily disturbing that there is a subversive political process going on which is hell bent on obliterating health care for the poor and uninsured in Louisiana. There has already been a loss of thousands of state jobs, and this current round will result in 1500 more people out of work. How does this contribute to the tax base, the spend and growth economy, putting people out of work, regardless of the fact that these are hard working and dedicated state employees?  Where are all the students of health care, physicians, nurses, allied health, going to go for training? Not to mention all of the sick, sick patients and not just the victims of and perpetrators of violent trauma: there is no plan in the foreseeable future for the state to pony up through Bayou Health or any other fee schedule to reimburse the private hospitals that will wind up caring for the uninsured poor. And once these private hospitals begin to see red, what will happen to the patients? Will they just start dying in the streets? Where is the social justice in that?

There is a call to action out there, let your voice be heard. Representative Jerome Richard from Thibodaux has called to convene a special session to address the recent bulldozing of healthcare, among other things. Contact your state legislators and senators, and demand they go to special session in November to reverse the evisceration of health care in this state. You the citizens elected the legislators and they answer to you, compel them to do their job and do what’s right by their constituents and not the special interests.

*****UPDATE***** This link will take you to an online petition through Change dot org requesting the legislature to convene a special session to find out what in God’s name is going on with the railroading of health care in Louisiana – please consider signing it – thanks

Occupy NOLA

Last Thursday the Occupy Wall Street movement made it to New Orleans.  

With signs ranging from End the War to Government is Organized Crime, the message of the protesters was at times hard to fathom. To be frank, I all but dismissed them as an oddity that was interesting to photograph, but not something that I took seriously.  As I thought and read more about the movement, I came across a great Op Ed in the NY Times yesterday that helped me put into words what I was seeing.  “As the Occupy Wall Street protests spread from Lower Manhattan to Washington and other cities, the chattering classes keep complaining that the marchers lack a clear message and specific policy prescriptions. The message — and the solutions — should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention since the economy went into a recession that continues to sock the middle class while the rich have recovered and prospered. The problem is that no one in Washington has been listening.”  The full opinion is here; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/opinion/sunday/protesters-against-wall-street.html?scp=5&sq=Occupy%20Wall%20Street&st=cse

I was really glad that I found that link prior to posting these images….I have had some conversations recently with friends and acquaintances about the fact that this might be the hardest time to finish a college degree and enter the workforce than any other time in US history.  Imagine being twenty-two years old, with a fresh bachelors degree in hand, with numerous college loans that you needed to finance that degree, hanging over your head that you need to repay.  It is not a pretty sight just now here in the US for those individuals. Young college graduates still lag far behind older college-educated workers: 9.3% of them are unemployed, more than double the 4.7% unemployment rate for college graduates age 25 and older and the class of 2011 will likely face the highest unemployment rate for young college graduates since the Great Recession began. What a terrifying time to arrive in the US job market.

Add to the mix, the average American who has lost their trust in a government that bails out banks and Wall Street while ignoring the pain that the Wall Street fallout has caused to middle class America.  We are constantly being assailed by the profits that JP Morgan (successor to Bear Stearns) , AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, the auto industry continue to make even after receiving extraordinary bailouts from the US. It seems unbelievable that the US government was forced to bailout such companies, at the expense of the American public who has had to endure job losses, home equity losses, a credit bubble that cost them their homes and jobs, while Wall Street has hummed merrily along, thanks to the bailout, and the politicians who were elected pledging to reform Wall Street continue to maintain the status quo, all while raking in money from the corporate sponsors they had pledged to reform.  Is it any wonder that the ordinary American is angry? When you factor these in, you begin to understand the need for such protests.  Indeed it has even been suggested that the Occupy Wall Street protests that are beginning to spread across the US, might even become similar to the 1960’s protest. Time will tell on that forecast.  For now, I think that the politicians, the pundits and the elite who are denouncing these protests should think twice about them; if you continue to bailout and coddle the rich while ignoring the middle class, the protests of the sixties could pale in comparison to these protests currently in their infancy.

The rest of my photos are here; http://laurabergerol.photoshelter.com/gallery/Occupy-NOLA/G0000vZy4n3gOvi4/

Farewell Space Shuttle

After 30 years the Space Shuttle Program has ended. I have been lucky enough to be part of this program since 1982, working at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans East. The huge External Fuel Tank (ET) was manufactured here. The ET was the only component of the Shuttle Transportation System that was not reusable.

Last July the employees at Michoud attended the rollout of the last Tank. This is the same tank that was used for the final Shuttle Launch on July 8, 2011. (It is a strange coincedence that the rollout ceremony was July 8, 2010.) In true New Orleans fashion, a second line was held to escort the Tank onto the barge that would transport it to KSC (Kennedy Space Center). Here’s a video of the event.

As I write this and watch the video I feel a lump in my throat. The experience of working at Michoud has been very, very special. I don’t know about other companies, but working at MAF we employees feel like family. I’ve known some people for the “almost 30 years” I’ve worked there. We have grown old together, celebrated each others life milestones: marriage, children, divorce, death, grandchildren, retirement, Katrina (more than 50% of the MAF workforce lost everything from the storm),the Saints as Superbowl Champs and the BP Oilspill (the blowout preventer is still at MAF, under investigation). The number of employees at MAF has decreased to a few hundred from an all time high of about 2,500 in the heyday of the Shuttle Program. Several employees have set up webpages with archived photos of our work and play while at MAF. There is a facebook page for former employees to keep in touch. The end of the Shuttle program means so much more than jobs lost.

At MAF we employees would gather around the closed circuit televisions across the facility and watch each launch that took place during work hours. We knew each milestone in the ascent, marvelling every time the capcom would report on the speed of the bird. We knew that our Tank must work flawlessly for eight minutes before it was jettisoned off the orbiter. And the Tank worked every time! Each employee, no matter what their job was, took pride in our work.

We felt much pain in the losses of Challenger and Columbia. I still cannot look at photographs or videos of those two events. Our technical and production crews worked around the clock after those incidents to make things right. And they did. Space exploration has never been and will never be a flawless endeavour. It is an inherently dangerous science.

We will not cry because it is over, we will rejoice because it happened and we had a part in it!

Companies granted protection with BP Oil Spill No Sue Waiver

The following is a  list of companies that are being granted protection for any future litigation when claimants sign a no sue waiver when opting to receive a lump sum final payment from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, known as the GCCF. The GCCF released a sample of the waiver, listing these companies in their attachment A, on their website on Friday, December 17, 2010.

  • Aerotek, Inc.
  • Ameri-Force, Inc.
  • Anadarko Petroleum Company
  • Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
  • Anadarko E&P Company LP
  • Art Catering, Inc.
  • Ashland
  • BJ Services Company, USA
  • BP America Inc.
  • BP America Production Company
  • BP Company North America Inc.
  • BP Corporation North America Inc.
  • BP Corporation North America Inc. Savings Plan Investment Oversight Committee
  • BP Energy Company
  • BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.
  • BP Global Special Products (America) Inc.
  • BP Holdings North America Limited
  • BP plc
  • BP Products North America Inc.
  • Brett Robinson Gulf Corporation
  • Cameron Corporation
  • Cameron International Corporation f/k/a Cooper Cameron Corporation
  • Cameron International Corporation d/b/a/ Cameron Systems Corporation
  • Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health L.L.C.
  • Chouest Shorebase Services, LLC
  • Clean Harbors
  • Core 4 Kebawk, LLC
  • Crowder/Gulf Joint Venture
  • Crowder Gulf Disaster Recovery
  • Diamond Offshore Company
  • DOF Subsea USA, Inc.
  • Drill-Quip, Inc.
  • Entrix, Inc.
  • Environmental Standards
  • EPS Corporation
  • ERG
  • ES&H Environmental Services
  • ESIS, Inc.
  • Exponent
  • Global Diving & Salvage, Inc.
  • Gulf Offshore Logistics, LLC
  • Gulf Offshore Logistics International,LLC
  • Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.
  • Halliburton Company
  • Hamilton Eng.
  • Hepaco
  • Hilcorp Energy Company
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd, Inc.
  • Hyundai Motor Company
  • In Rem Vessels
  • Island Ventures II
  • Jupiter Insurance Limited
  • LaBorde Marine Services, LLC
  • Lloyd’s of London
  • Marine Spill Response Corporation
  • MEG Energy Corp
  • M-I L.L.C.
  • M-I Drilling Fluids L.L.C.
  • M-I Swaco
  • Miller Environmental Group, Inc.  Mitsui & Co. (USA), Inc.
  • Mitsui & Co. Ltd.
  • Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. Ltd.
  • Moran Environmental Recovery, LLC
  • MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC
  • Moex USA Corporation
  • MV Monica  Ann
  • MV Pat Tilman
  • MV Damon B. Bankston
  • MV Max Chouest
  • MV Ocean Interventions
  • MV C. Express
  • MV Joe Griffin
  • MV Mr. Sidney
  • MV Hilda Lab
  • MV Sailfish
  • MV Seacor Washington
  • MV Seacor Vanguard
  • Nalco Holding Company
  • Nalco Finance Holdings LLC
  • Nalco Finance Holdings Inc.
  • Nalco Holdings LLC
  • Nalco Company
  • Nautical Ventures, LLC
  • Nautical Solutions, LLC
  • O’Brien’s Response Management, Inc.
  • Ocean Runner, Inc.
  • Oceaneering International, Inc.
  • Offshore Cleaning Systems L.L.C.Offshore Service Vessels, LLC
  • Offshore Inland Marine & Oilfield Services, Inc.
  • Ranger Offshore, Inc.
  • Reel Pipe, LLC
  • Schlumberger, Ltd.
  • Seacor Marine, LLC
  • Seacor Marine, Inc.
  • Seacor Marine International, Inc.
  • Siemens Financial, Inc.
  • Seafairer Boat, LLC
  • State Street Bank and Trust Company
  • Subsea 7 LLC
  • The Response Group, Inc.
  • TestAmerica, Inc.,
  • Tiburon Divers, Inc.
  • Tidewater Marine LLC
  • Tiger Safety, LLC
  • TL Wallace
  • Transocean Inc.
  • Transocean Deepwater, Inc.
  • Transocean Drilling (U.S.A.) Inc.
  • Transocean Enterprise Inc.
  • Transocean Holdings Inc.
  • Transocean Holdings LLC
  • Transocean Ltd.
  • Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc.
  • Transocean Offshore USA, Inc.
  • Triton Asset Leasing GmbH
  • Triton Hungary Asset Management KFT
  • Triton Hungary Asset Management Limited Liability Company
  • USES/Construct Corps
  • Weatherford International Ltd.
  • Weatherford U.S. L.P
  • Worley Catastrophe Services, LLC
  • Worley Catastrophe Response, LLC

 

It’s Day 86 and I’m Not Okay.

I don’t deal with death well. At thirty-four years old, I have seen death take my parents, a child and many very good friends from me.  When dealing with death, I grieve out loud. I weep. I cry. I question. I scream and then I weep once more.

Living in Southeastern Louisiana lately, death surrounds us, creeping into all aspects of our lives. Work is no longer work; it is working while we can. Cooking no longer means going to the grocery store and getting what is cheapest, but stocking up on local seafood before our seafood ceases to exist. It is saying good-bye to the memories we would make on the beaches, because the beaches are closed off. Watching the television means watching local news or Anderson Cooper 360 since those seem to be the only outlets really reporting what is happening here. It means becoming the ‘them’ again,  the ‘them’ that is stupid enough to live there, stupid enough to have a state that depends on oil to run, the ‘them’ that is getting what they deserve. We are the ‘them’ who are hurting but the ‘them’ not being listened to. We are the ‘them’ being held hostage by a foreign corporation, the Federal government and the Coast Guard.

Armed security guards in pastel t-shirts and camo pants guard the beaches, not allowing passage, particularly if you have a camera or pen and paper. In your community, you become the outsider, the enemy, the background music that no one really listens to but is just sort of there. Except we aren’t there, because they won’t let us be.

What was once familiar has become foreign, unrecognizable. The spot on the beach, my spot, where I have written so many words and have contemplated so important life decisions is not longer there, now only an oil-covered mess exists, tainted by negligence, blanketed in betrayal and marked with corruption. The calm has been strangled from it, possibly never to return, a victim the no one heard scream in the middle of the night.

Even harder to bear is the defeated looks on the faces of those all around, whether it be the fisherman who no longer has an income or the bartender that has had his hours cut and watched his tip amounts disappear or the children that know what is happening in the Gulf, wondering why this had to happen, mourning their own things in their own way. They are left confused, seeing the adults in their life struggle with the rhyme and reason, unable to feel really secure after seeing the hopelessness enter the lives of the adults that they trust.

So many adults want to help, but we are held back. If adults, who wield the real power, are unable to help, what can children do?

Culture is dying. The days of the familial fishing business is gone, leaving, well, nothing for those who have dedicated their whole lives to the industry, the sport. No longer can one get on a boat and hitchhike from shrimper to crabber down through the bayou and back up again, offering to help chip in for fuel or work off your ride. Gone are the days of the catch, coming home and celebrating with your family a particular bountiful day. The only thing left to celebrate is what once was and no one likes reliving what we have lost.

We plead for answers from our government, the body we should turn to in an event of a disaster of this size. The government looks the other way, pointing to the criminal that is responsible for this crime, telling us to ask them. When we do ask, because all other rational options have been exercised, we are not given answers but press releases.  We then receive information contradictory to what was just released to the national press when we call to speak with individuals for clarification. BP is not even in the same genre of book, let alone on the same page, yet, we are expected to put faith in these people that our loss will be accounted for and trust that they will do the right thing and help us make it through this preventable homicide against nature.

Is there anyone there? Is anyone listening to us? Our voices are being muffled by politics, by serious covering of asses, by a system that has been allowed to become an outlaw, doing as it pleases with no consequences for bad behavior. Mainstream media attempt to distract us, trying to fill us with ‘developments’ that aren’t developments but recycled news stories they didn’t bother paying attention to the first time. No one is looking out for us. No one is being our voice. It feels like we live in our own third world country.

It is for these reasons, and many more that cannot adequately be described with words but must be experienced to fully understand, that I’m not okay. The death. The desperation. The hopelessness. The abandon. The shame of it all. I’m not okay.

I’m not okay.

Despite New Found Outrage, Libyan/BP Link Not New News

Blair and Gaddafi May 2007

I have a habit of watching CNN on the television, while having BBC or Al-Jazeera English running on my computer through Live Station while I read newspapers online, check out my Google alerts and have my morning coffee. This morning when I turned CNN on,extended reporting  aired about  a link between the release of the Lockerbie bomber,  Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, and deals made in regards to BP. Annoyed, I turned to MSNBC and what was being discussed on The Morning Joe? A connection between BP and the release of al- Megrahi. Fox News? You guessed it, the possible connection between BP and al-Megrahi release.

What’s all the noise about?

Politicians in the United States are now calling for an investigation into a possible connection that exchanged al-Megrahi release for big oil contracts in Libya for BP.

My question is why, after eighty-some days of obscene negligence, dishonesty that cannot be described any other way than profane, irresponsibility and fleecing of Louisiana’s working class, is this now becoming an issue being reported on the mainstream American media and receiving attention by those powers that be in the US when this information has been available for some time? Like a few years.

In 2007, the rumblings of a BP-influenced deal with Libya began making rumblings shortly after images of Tony Blair and Muammar al-Gaddafi shaking hands (see above photo) appeared in the media. Shortly after this photo-op, it was announced  on  May 29, 2007 that BP would be going into Libya after a 33 year absence.  This was a 900 million dollar deal that gave BP rights to oil exploration and prospecting. United States publications like the New York Times also briefly covered this story. (As well as endless British mainstream publications such as The Telegraph, The Times,  The Guardian and The Independent)Is one to believe that the US was just made aware of the information connecting BP with the Lockerbie trade? Heck no! The Washington Post published this article on August 31, 2009 on the connection. MSNBC published this report on August 29, 2009. There are many others.

So, why is it now that US politicians are calling for an investigation into the connection between these two entities? Was it easier to look the other way when Big Oil was filling politicians pockets without consequence or possibility of guilt by association?  Is it because we still live in a society fueled by Bush Administration fear of the elusive boogeyman – the terrorist and for a company to have made a trade for a terrorist is just not acceptable?  Is it because now it is trendy to speak ill of BP? Or is it because it is a slow news week, with stalled progress  on domestic or foreign policy, not to mention the clusterfuck between BP and the Feds in dealing with the oil spill and the mainstream media clan are puppets and report only what each other are reporting, without doing any sort of research or looking for ledes in important stories such as the oil spill? Or perhaps it is because finally we have caught another country red-handed and just as guilty as the US for allowing oil to influence our domestic and foreign policies?

Whatever the reason, this isn’t a new development, folks.  This isn’t a new discovered secret deal uncovered by intelligence agencies or leaked documents. This has been there, right under most of our noses, hidden on the back pages of newspapers for at least three years. Don’t fall for the hype. Demand more.

This is just another example of our suffering and tragedy in the Gulf being hijacked by politics to help build someone’s career.

Blog For Fair Pay For Women

Today is the point in 2010 when the average woman’s wages finally catch up to her male counterpart’s salary from the prior year and the impetus for Blog For Fair Pay Day. The average pay gap between men and women in America is $10,662.00 and the theme for this year is “What would it mean if there weren’t a $10,662 wage gap?”

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy signed The Equal Pay Act making it illegal to pay women and men different wages for the same work. Fast forward to 2010 and that gap has still not closed. I’ve been working since the age of 16 with only a few months between then and now when I was unemployed. As a young married woman in the late ’70’s I wasn’t concerned with whether men were making more money than I, as a woman. I was too concerned with the day to day struggle of making my meager earnings stretch to cover my husbands and my living expenses while my husband finished college. We lived in a government subsidized apartment, I car-pooled to work with friends and we ate a lot of macaroni and cheese. Once  my husband finished college, we moved to New Orleans where he began his career and our lives became financially and emotionally comfortable. But I know how fortunate I am and I know there are  many, many women who still have to stretch their dollars eating lots of macaroni and cheese and many of them have children to raise and provide for as well. These are our sisters out there busting their butts trying to make a decent living wage for themselves and their children with little to no help from anyone else. Fighting for fair wages may be a luxury they can’t afford for now so it’s up to the rest of us to carry the torch for them.

On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed the first act of Congress of his presidency,  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Lilly Ledbetter amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, stating 180-day limitation for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck, thereby ending the discrimination sanctioned by The Supreme Courts’ decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

A companion legislation, The Paycheck Fairness Act, passed the House in January 2009  and is currently  in the Senate where it’s languishing. Here is a link where you can write your senators urging them to pass this important legislation.

Additionally, here is the 2008 American Community Survey of Men & Women’s Earnings By State which shows Louisiana women earned less than 75.4 percent of what men earned for that year.

All the stastistics in the world, though, cannot put a face to the thousands of women who are affected by the disparity in pay so for my blog post I decided to poll some of the hard-working women I know to find out how that extra $10,662.00 could be put to use in their lives.

Shercole

I would personally use the extra money to create a savings and investing plan to double that number. I would take it as an opportunity to build wealth and work on other independent projects I have for the future.
~~Shercole, Consultant
Shercole’s websites: New Orleans Tech, Minority Weirdos, Good Nola

Lisa

As a single mother, this is a significant question because such a pay increase means the absolute difference between being able to do things and not being able to do them, as I have no secondary male income to pick up the slack. I would:
#1 Get the neglected dental work done that I can’t afford, but that would hopefully be a one-time expense that would take up more than half of the increase. With the remainder, or in a dental work-free year, I would also
#2 Shop at places like Whole Foods, where I could and buy better quality food for myself and my kids without worrying so much about the cost.
#3 Take my kids on an actual vacation that’s not an evacuation. We haven’t had one in over 10 years.
#4 Take my kids out to dinner once in a while for something other than fast food, pizza or Chinese food and occasionally say yes when friends want me to join them out for a meal.
#5 Put some away so that maybe I could grow a little wealth and retire with fewer worries one day.
~~Lisa, Professor, University of New Orleans,and mother of two

Amanda

,

Because I have pre-existing medical conditions, I am currently without health insurance. Due to the nature of my health problems, monthly doctor visits and prescriptions are required, being paid out-of-pocket on the salaries that my husband and I make. The additionally $10,662 would off-set my health care expenses, my monthly health care expenses, spending nearly $1000/month maintaining my health care needs. This would help my family tremendously, to meet our monthly living expenses and not only fulfill all of our needs, but perhaps some of our wants as well.
~~Amanda Mueller, independent journalist and human rights activist, married, one child
Amanda’s websites: Dateline Palestine , Je ne regrette rien

Valentine

With $10,662 more a year I could have provided more for my children—simple things like health care and art programs. We would have had our own house because I wouldn’t have always been trying to scrimp pennies to get by. These days, with the damage the storm has done to all of our finances, I would have been better able to survive some of the ravishes and be in less debt. Now, all I do is struggle—like all my other women friends. Fortunately, like a lot of women, particularly single mothers, I am strong-willed and have managed to stay alive and continue moving forward. Both my children are college graduates; both graduated with honors; my son went on to get his Ph.D and my daughter chose to return to school for design. Of course, if I had that extra $10,662 a year I would not still be paying off her school loan for those first four years and I would have been able to help her get a better car. Being their mother’s children, they are strong-willed as well and are both successful young adults.
~~Valentine Pierce,Graphic Designer
two children, now adults
Valentine’s website: Poet Sense and Sensibilities, Valentine Pierce Designs – Graphics, Valentine Pierce Designs on Etsy

Aura

With an increase of over $10,000 in yearly income, I could easily improve my quality of life, especially in a city like New Orleans. That would give me the ability to upgrade to a better apartment without needing a roommate, and would also afford me the opportunity to obtain a more comprehensive health insurance plan. I’m okay most of the time, but I have little wiggle room in the event of an emergency. It’s difficult to feel comfortable day to day when you are aware of that. I also would be more comfortable increasing the amount of money I put into the creative projects I love doing, such as my pod cast.
~~Aura Shannon, Sales associate, Actress, Pod cast developer.
Aura’s Website: Backstage on the Bayou

Here is a list of bloggers participating in Equal Pay Day 2010.