Monday, October 20, 2008

Mulled Spices

Everyone has an Achille's heel when it comes to finances, whether that be wanton spending or an iron grip on your penny bank, and everyone has something to work on. Recently, I started working for a bank; I don't need anyone to tell me how fortunate I am to have a job in this economy, let alone one in an industry threatened by the excesses of Wall Street, and every day I see people from all walks of life. Nothing stands as a more truthful testimony to the very real differences in American citizens and our friendly non-Americans who live in this country as the state of their finances. It's difficult to stare into the eyes of a man who looks for all the world like he should have a healthy savings account at his age, and tell him he's overdrawn and doesn't have enough funds in his other accounts to cover the overdraft. And it shakes you to have to reassure an elderly couple that their life's savings will weather this storm, after they've just watched their CDs shrink a couple hundred-thousand.

I started off to talk about my personal weakness; it's difficult to be light-hearted, but I strive, anyway. I am so, so, so fortunate to have a job, not only in this country, but in this particular, local area. I am so fucking fortunate that I can afford to keep a roof over our heads and provide food for my dog and Sir and myself, pay our bills, and keep Sir steadily connected to the internet so he can do his homework. Every day, I see someone who can't, and more often than not, I see a lot of people who can't.

It becomes ever so much more important to pay attention to the things that are happening in this country, because these things have a way of affecting all of us, no matter how much we try to ignore what may seem like an overwhelming tide of bad news. Innumerable blogs covered the recent faux pas (or what I'd call doggy doo-doo) of McCain in the last debate, in which he slighted women, putting their health between air quotes. I have listened to men who feel their rights are threatened by the focus on women's issues, and I've heard people bemoan the emphasis on women's health, asking why can't the focus be on the economy/foreign policy/you-name-it.

People, women's issues affect us all. Women, who make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes, spent $3.7 trillion in 2007 alone. No other group, not men, not people with disabilities, not Hispanic/Latino groups, not African Americans, not people with alternative lifestyles - NOT ONE GROUP spent more money than women. If women had equal pay, what would our economy look like, knowing that women are the ones handling bills, purchasing groceries, taking care of gifts, and yes, buying shoes? What if they had that extra 23 cents an hour and they could take on an equal share of their families' breadwinning duties, maybe even give daddy a break so he doesn't have to panic about how to support his family in this economic crisis? What if we were so successful in empowering women that we set a positive example for other nations to emulate our success? Imagine our foreign policies if we had more quality examples of women in ambassadorial positions. Imagine what our families would look like if everyone let women decide for themselves how they wanted to plan their lives - what if we had women raising generations of children that were confident, smart, proactive and compassionate?

Women's issues affect us all, all the way down to our everyday decisions of how to apply what little money we have coming in so we don't have overdrafts. You can come up with myriad reasons why women's issues might ruin the country, but you'd have to admit that just as many reasons exist why solving women's issues just might ease a great deal of problems. Something to think about.

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