Letter: Am I better off today than I was four years ago?

Editor:

Regarding the letter urging women to vote (“Women vote, yeah man”, 6/6/12), I feel some of the writer’s statements require comment.

• “…women doing the same job as men make 77 cents an hour less and get passed over for promotion in favor of men?”

Not quite the whole story. The 77 cents is an average of total wages in the work force. Other than union jobs, wages generally depend on how long and how well one has done their job. Women tend to leave the work force, or enter it later than men, because they have babies. They also tend to take more time off to deal with family. This is a function of genetics – not bias. They also tend to steer clear of riskier (higher paying) jobs or those that require more physical strength (many of which pay higher wages). It might also surprise the writer to know that the senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pays her women staffers an average of $26,000 less than men staffers.

• Concerning “Health Security” she speaks of Medicare and Medicaid “which programs some in Congress are trying to either cut back or privatize.”

As it turns out, President Obama’s premiere legislation, “Obamacare,” has written into it a reduction in funding for the programs in order to pay for other parts of his program. Of course, Obamacare does not solve the problem of runaway price increases in our health care system. It exacerbates it. As our country races headlong into financial disaster, both programs must be reformed. But in his legislation, the amount being cut could actually be achieved by wiping out the fraud and waste in the system. A recent government report admits that 10 percent -15 percent of their funds go to fraud and waste, whereas private insurance holds the line at just over 1 percent. But that still won’t save the country from financial disaster. Medicare and Medicaid are the main driving force of our deficit and their unfunded promises to the next generations – along with Social Security – puts our real deficit into an unsustainable $100 trillion range unless the system is reformed. Mitt Romney (Ann’s husband) has indicated that he wants to bypass Washington by block-granting Medicaid money back to the states to be distributed. His rationale is that the state governments are in a better position to know the needs of their own people.

• “Education Security” “…statistics for poor children show they are disadvantaged educationally and stay that way without intervention. So they fight for Head Start, or Kids First Programs, and Pell Grants for … college bound kids (which our Republican House of Reps is trying to kill).”

I have no problem with pre-school programs. However, studies show that the advantage gained by those children who attend pre-school vs. those who do not disappears around second grade. On the other hand, school voucher systems, which allow parents to take the education dollars allotted for their child with them to a higher performing school (thus creating competition that forces non-performing schools to improve), have proven very successful.

Unfortunately, the powerful teachers unions are steadfastly against the voucher system. The Obama administration has just recently overseen the closing of an extremely successful charter school in Washington, D.C., itself, due to pressure from the unions. The school was attended by nearly 100 percent black ghetto kids whose parents were trying to break their children out of the cycle of poverty, drugs and crime prevalent in their neighborhoods. Governor Romney, as well as the Republican leadership in Congress, supports vouchers.

As far as Pell grants and student loans is concerned, another recent study has shown that, as government has increase aid to students who wish to attend our universities and colleges, those same schools have reduced their own aid to their students, creating something of a “corporate welfare” system in education. As government aid has increased the price of these institutions’ product to their customers has increased disproportionately to the cost of living. The average student loan debt by graduation now tops $23,000 and a huge percentage of those students are finding that their degree doesn’t necessarily translate into high wages in the real world. The average starting salary for a student with a Bachelor Degree in Psychology is about $30,000, a Masters fetching about $60,000. Four years for a degree in Fine Arts gets about $30,000 or $55,000 with a Masters. Perhaps loans to students should be based, as in the real world, on projected ability to repay the loan. For instance an Accounting Major (starting at $43,000 for a Bachelor or 90,000 with a Masters) or an Engineering Major ($55,000 for a Bachelor or $100,000 with a Masters) would have a higher credit rating than either a Psych major or Fine Arts major. Is it also possible that, if professors actually taught classes five days a week or many university presidents didn’t make twice (or more) what the U.S. President makes, perhaps tuition could be brought under control.

• Finally, “Food Security.” If our country was not putting 4 of every 10 bushels of grain into fuel production prices on just about everything we purchase at the grocery store (and general merchandise stores due to higher fuel prices driven by regulation), maybe mothers – and yes, fathers - could put more and healthier food on the table.

So, yes, women should vote. Men as well. But it should be an informed vote. And before you pull the handle, ask yourself “Am I better off today than I was four years ago?”

Jim Barber

Camp Verde

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