Birth Control, Conscience, and Choice

Several groups on the left have gotten upset over the fact that Donald Trump is rolling back the “free birth control” clause of the Affordable Care Act. Theoretically, that’s justified, since millions of women have been taking advantage of the program. How many of those millions honestly couldn’t afford birth control in the first place is probably up for debate.

Also, it’s debatable whether or not the new battle front for these groups should involve petitioning for the FDA to allow some more birth control options to end up available over the counter. (Don’t expect to see that, even though it theoretically would make the pill available to more women, because if it’s over the counter, there wouldn’t be any subsidies through any kind of prescription coverage.)

But, no matter what, it’s disingenuous to suggest that great numbers of women who want to use birth control will no longer be able to have it because their employers refuse to pay for it. Before the birth control mandate, birth control was generally treated like any other prescription, which meant that prescription drug coverage partially subsidized the cost of the pills. Without the mandate, it’s fairly safe to assume that it will go back to that standard. Also, insurance companies aren’t going to be forbidden from offering birth control coverage directly to women, even those who are employed by companies that do not want to pay for the drugs. Remember, the issue is about companies not wanting to pay for a particular type of coverage, not forbidding women from having that coverage on their own.

These organizations that are upset about this would be better served by starting to cut deals with the birth control manufacturers themselves, and make coupons or other discount programs available to women who can’t afford the full cost of birth control themselves. (Again, this number isn’t as high as they would have people believe, thanks to multiple generic options.)

If they were really serious about increasing access for women, they would be asking pharmacies with clinics to start offering birth control services.

The primary problem with this issue is that people are focusing on the emotions, as opposed to the money. The bottom line remains that insurance companies didn’t complain about this mandate in the first place because keeping women on birth control is cheaper for them than covering care for pregnant women or women who would have other health problems if they did not take birth control. Insurance companies will find a way to keep the status quo, because it has been helping their balance sheets at least a little. The same goes for the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the drugs. If anyone believes that they will easily give up their sales over this, they need to rethink their position.

If we’re lucky, the solution to the issue will involve removing both government and employers as brokers between women and access to birth control. Maybe it’s time for women to stop demanding that employers and government hand them their pills, and start demanding better options directly from insurers and pharmaceutical companies?

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Source: Literat Politik

Birth Control, Conscience, and Choice

I am right – you are wrong – right?

“You won’t change my mind.”

This is a statement that is used as a quick stop to just about any debate – political or otherwise. In the American political sphere, it is said by people on both sides of the aisle, and members from both sides regularly accuse the other side of saying it more often.

Which isn’t true.

Both are equally guilty, and usually the statement involves holding onto political “principles,” or otherwise showing complete loyalty to the concepts being promoted by the pundit du jour. And both sides are guilty of holding onto long-standing political philosophies simply for the sake of loyalty, in spite of changing facts on the ground.

For example, on the left, there is the “settled science” of climate change caused by man – an oxymoron on its face, since there is no such thing as “settled science.” Also, in all of the documentation about our changing weather patterns, there is barely (if ever) any mention of other relevant forces, like our sun. When there is talk about reducing carbon emissions, there is no talk about recycling carbon, to create bio-fuel. Perhaps that is somewhat fair, since the “fuel” that can be created like that isn’t particularly suitable for making fuel for our cars, but petrochemicals are everywhere in our society. It is difficult to think that bio-fuel made by algae that is fed with carbon emissions cannot be used to produce something, even if it’s packaging for our “never touched by man” drinking water.

On the right, there is the general thought that the US has too many immigrants. They are taking up all of our jobs, and bringing crime to our shores. Statistically speaking, neither statement is correct, but we still need a wall. The saddest part of this political thinking is that it is assuming that our nation has a cement ceiling restricting economic growth – no matter what we do, there will always be a finite number of jobs and businesses, and sooner or later, we will reach that limit. Presumably, we must reserve that limited resource for people who were born here, and ignore the fact that historically, our nation has enjoyed the greatest levels of economic growth when we have allowed or encouraged immigration.

The problems that we’re facing today as a nation are not simple, but more often than not, solutions to problems lie somewhere in between the political lines we have drawn to divide ourselves. Environmental problems like carbon emissions are more likely to be solved by capitalism, through scientific innovation that is focused on reducing emissions through recycling. We have done a great deal to reduce emissions at this point, and the next step is to find ways to use waste to make something else of value – like plastics from algae. The left won’t suggest that, but people on the right have occasionally been suggesting it.

Fear over job losses and immigrants have been brewing for years, with a steep increase starting after 9/11. While both sides have been battling over this issue, the primary problem with immigration has been largely ignored. Our legal immigration system is broken. There is no point to saying “people need to enter this country legally” when the bureaucracy involved is so flawed, it is nearly impossible. Before we talk about illegal immigrants, we should be demanding that our elected officials fix the legal immigration system, since there’s no point to tackling illegal immigration before that is done. We also need to remember that safety and freedom are not good bedfellows.

Above anything else, we need to stop dismissing potential solutions to problems simply because of the sources. People have political ideologies. Good ideas are non-partisan. Dismissing roughly half of the potential solutions to a given problem only increases the probability that no solution will be found. This radical notion is not about accepting “all” the ideas of anyone on either side of the aisle. It is stating that there is nothing wrong with taking the best bits and pieces of ideas from wherever they are found.

When we were young, we were taught to search for answers from multiple sources. That was meant to be a life-long skill – something all adults should do when faced with a problem to solve. Somewhere along the way, Americans stopped doing that. They chose sides, and allowed the leaders and pundits from their respective places on the political spectrum to spoon feed them information to regurgitate on demand. They created multiple generations of “You can’t change my mind” people. That has left us with massive debt, government as the largest employer (when adding all levels together), and freedom and innovation choking bureaucracies. It’s also left us sitting on one side or the other of a political divide, which only serves one group of people – the professional politicians.

Maybe it’s time to rethink how we’re doing things?

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Source: Literat Politik

I am right – you are wrong – right?

What Gig Employees Wish Employers Understood

If you haven’t heard the term “gig economy” yet, you probably haven’t been paying attention to a major shift in the job market. For various reasons – from complicated benefits requirements for traditional employees, to changes in technology, and everything in between – more and more employers have been opting for contracted labor. The people who are willing to fill those positions often juggle multiple contracts at one time, out of necessity. That “should” be obvious, since it’s not likely that any single gig will pay enough to make ends meet. Employers are theoretically using this option to save money.

That brings us to the first thing that gig employees wish employers understood:

No, you probably aren’t my only employer – If you’re an employer who is having trouble filling a contracted position, take a close look at the time you’re expecting from a potential employee. This isn’t just about the raw amount of time you expect a person to work. If you’re expecting the candidate to commit to being essentially “on-call” all the time, or if you’ve set up hard and fast deadlines spread out through more than just an eight hour day, you’re probably not going to find someone to do the job. That’s especially true if the pay you’re offering isn’t remotely close to market rates for a full-time position in the field. Time is money for a gig worker, and if you’re saying that you expect a person to be willing to jump every time you call, you are setting expectations too high (unless you’re willing to pay for that ability.) Either expect to be told that your work will be done within a reasonable period of time, or be willing to pay handsomely to get your projects to the top of the proverbial pile every time.

Yes, I often do prioritize my projects based on pay scale – This is something that some gig workers might not want to admit out loud, but we’re human. Of course we’re going to get the work that is paying us the most done first. We might push other deadlines to the extreme limit, even to the point of getting ourselves in danger of losing a lower paying gig to keep the higher one. We know we’re expendable on the job market, and usually the first to lose our positions when budget cuts happen. That means we’ll put the highest paying and most stable gigs first, since it will hurt us less in the pocketbook if we lose something small. Sadly, most gig workers won’t let an employer know what the “break point” is – what pay and time commitment level is needed to put a gig on the top of the pile. If you’re really serious about making sure that your work takes priority, ask what it would take. Don’t be surprised if a candidate doesn’t answer easily or at all. (There’s advice to gig workers here, too. It’s better to be honest about this, if an employer asks.) Keep in mind that a lot of people are new to this type of employment – employers and employees alike. We’re all on a learning curve on how to negotiate terms.

I do gig work for the flexibility – That might seem obvious, but it gets lost once the contract negotiations start. Employers get requirements floating in their heads, and potential employees start weighing the wages versus time commitment. Also, it’s important to remember that gig workers have to shift gears from one employer to the next on a daily basis. Not all employers have the same expectations, even within the same field. Don’t set yourself up to lose gig employees on a regular basis by expecting them to know everything you want immediately. For example, in my own field of writing and editing, I regularly shift between writing styles – AP, APA, and Chicago – and occasionally that gear shifting is a bit rusty. If every employer I had assumed that I was incompetent when I would occasionally use the wrong style for them, there would be major problems. Thankfully, I haven’t dealt with that often, but on the rare occasions that I have, employers who insulted my intelligence quickly found out that while they considered me expendable, that thinking was mutual.

Yes, gig workers do talk to each other – This can work for or against employers who hire people on contract on a regular basis. There isn’t a formal “black list” per se, but word travels fast if someone is slow to pay, too demanding for the pay offered, or just generally “difficult.” On the other side, there are companies that get recommended as great employers, too.

I do know how to find other gig workers – If you already have gig workers for one type of work, and need them for another, a good place to start looking is among the ones you already have. Some people have multiple skill sets, so you might have what you’re looking for already. When we apply for a gig, we don’t necessarily say anything about other skills we have. Failing that, we know other gig workers personally, and we usually have favorite places to look for gigs. (Very few of us will ever go to Craigslist, but we probably are registered on at least one or two freelance job sites.) Ask us, and we’ll tell you where to find the cream of the crop, or ask around for you.

Offices are overrated – In my industry – writing and editing – there are rare circumstances when it’s absolutely necessary for people to actually work in an office together. In spite of the movement toward team-building, open office plans, and living room style work spaces, there is still a large contingent of people who like to call the coffee shop their office. Gig workers are usually in that set. Let’s be honest – we do this so we don’t have to deal with set hours, commuting to an office, or changing out of our pajamas to go to work. Beyond saving on overhead for office space, offering remote gigs opens up your options, too. You’re no longer limited to your local area when you’re searching to fill a position. If your argument for having your employees under your own roof is that you want to be able to keep an eye on them, you might need to rethink your staffing choices and management style. Yes, you do have to trust remote workers – a lot. Ask yourself, do you really want to feel that you can’t trust your own employees to do their jobs without needing someone to watch?

This list is generally interrelated, and only scratches the surface. There probably could be a few books written on the in’s and out’s of gig work, and how to break down some of the walls that often end up between the workers and their employers. The bottom line is that gig workers are usually a mix between the “work to live” and “live to work” crowds – the two extremes. Either they’re doing just what they need to be able to pay the bills and afford what they want, or they’re total workaholics who wish for 48 hour days and 14 day weeks. The ones who stick with it aren’t the kind of workers who need hand-holding and excessive amounts of guidance. They’re doing the same thing the business owners they work for do, just on a smaller scale. It’s a business, and when you hire one, you’re hiring a “boss.” Maybe just remembering that is a good start for employers who are stepping into the world of hiring gig workers.


Source: Liz Harrison

What Gig Employees Wish Employers Understood

Ann Coulter, UC Berkeley, and Attention Whoredom

I made the observation on Twitter that there really was no way that Ann Coulter was ever going to speak on the UC Berkeley campus.

Full stop.

That shouldn’t need to be repeated, and if anyone can come up with a remotely-close-to-legitimate argument to the contrary, I may have to publicly humiliate myself for their benefit.

Since I’m not into humiliation, on with the explanation why Coulter just wasn’t going to do that appearance.

There is a single piece of information that is needed to explain this—Milo Yiannopoulos was pushed off that campus, violently so.

On the scale of “objectionable persons” in the sheltered world known as the UC system in general, the flamboyant gay guy who likes to call the president “daddy” is actually less detestable than Ann Coulter. At least he’s gay, right?

Coulter has built a reputation for being crass, ignorant, hateful, bigoted… I could go on, but I’m not in the mood to show the extent of my vocabulary right now. Bluntly, she stands for all the things that Berkeley students cower in safe spaces to shield themselves from every day.

If anyone wants to attempt to start the argument of free speech, and diversity of views on campus, see the previous list of negative adjectives. “If” Coulter was remotely close to serious, and could manage to string two sentences together without insulting huge swathes of the US population, then we could get into that discussion.

That isn’t the case.

Coulter is a shock jock, in the hateful toad sense, as opposed to the stripper-loving Howard Stern sense. While the latter might wander into the realm of misogyny, at least it’s with the consent of the participants (and all in naughty fun.)

When dealing with someone who cannot manage to offer constructive ideas without peppering them heavily with hate, there is no reason to suggest that there would be educational value for students. Well, maybe she might be a good case study for psychology students, but it’s doubtful that Coulter would appreciate being told by her audience that they think she’s a sociopath, a malignant narcissist, or both.

This entire exercise had nothing to do with freedom of speech on campus. Hate speech, while still protected speech for the moment, does not have educational value outside of pointing at it as an example of what not to do. It’s already been established that Coulter doesn’t take kindly to being challenged on her twisted world view, so there wouldn’t be an opportunity for an enlightened debate on anything. So, what was this really about?

Coulter is an attention whore.

She’s worried about remaining relevant, so she’s creating dramas to keep herself in the spotlight. What’s better than to have the she-devil claim to be the victim of the special snowflakes that can’t handle hearing her vitriol?

Newsflash—the snowflakes aren’t the only ones who don’t want to listen to her. There are plenty of people who at least slightly agree with Coulter who don’t want to hear her either. Back to the previous statement about her fear of losing relevancy.

So, before anyone gets sucked into the “Coulter as victim” nonsense, think about it. The only thing Coulter is a victim of at this point is fewer dollars in her pocketbook because fewer people want to hear her these days. Now that she’s taken to trying to force herself in front of groups she knows very well have zero interest in hearing her, everyone should be smelling the desperation.


Source: Liz Harrison

Ann Coulter, UC Berkeley, and Attention Whoredom