Letters to the editor, Feb. 22-24, 2017
Submissions from Park Record readers
February 21, 2017
Wasatch County Democrat takes GOP vice chair to task
I support equal pay for equal work because I support the American ideal. Last week's argument against equal pay for equal work was awash in 'alternative facts' and the most odious sort of patronizing disdain for women in the workplace, and it demands a response.
We live in a land of self-determination. The core American ideal is that a person gets out what they put in; that opportunity is out there for those with the will and strength to reach out and grasp it. This magnificent idea is subject to constant assault from those who place the gleaming jewel of opportunity further from their competition than from themselves. The American dream does not defend itself; it is our responsibility to protect it.
Utah businesses pay women a fraction of what they pay men — same experience, same job title, same performance — less money. They don't do it because of 'simple economics,' but because they get away with it; because entrenched networks of subtle sexism that start with baby-shower gifts and continue through high school and college convince us that it's OK. It is our duty as vigilant protectors of the American ideal to fight back against this creeping bias and pass laws that protect hard working Americans from those who would steal their opportunity.
Like many antiquated, out-of-touch arguments, Mr. Green's position is based on a made up worldview: Mom at home in her apron and Dad at work in his suit. The world is full of different sorts of people — single, divorced, gay, you name it. We have a responsibility to build an America that works for all of us, not one that only works if you fit inside the lines Republicans like Mr. Green have drawn for you.
Recommended Stories For You
Joseph Silverzweig, President, Wasatch County Young Democrats
* * *
A sympathetic reader says she still disagrees with Green
Thank you for what you do for the members of the GOP in Wasatch County. Having spent more than 10 years in the public sector, I know that it is not easy and often times, words such as those expressed in your letter can be misunderstood and misinterpreted. Please allow me to introduce myself and express some thoughts that have been swirling around in my brain since I read your letter.
I am a 39-year old woman with a Masters Degree in Public Administration. I am unmarried (not by choice, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes), but I do have 17 beautiful nieces and 11 handsome nephews. I am convinced they will save the world someday.
I was one of only a few women in my graduate program, but when I took out student loans for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, it was based on the requirement that I pay the same tuition as my male classmates. I wish I had been able to only pay 77 percent of their tuition- how great would that have been?
Sir, I imagine that you are the proud grandfather of lovely young women or perhaps you have nieces. Which is why I am having a hard time reconciling your words with those things. None of us can foresee the future, but what advice would you give to one of them if they didn't have the opportunity to stay at home, for whatever reason? I commend you for your efforts to allow that for your wife, but not everyone has that chance. What then sir? Would you advise them to become welfare dependent? To just deal with it? To find a second, third and fourth job- sacrificing time with children they may have?
As a general rule, I agree that government should not interfere in private business. However, history has shown us that private enterprises cannot always be trusted to make equitable decisions and to look out for employees most vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment. And where would we be had the government not stepped in on issues of child labor? And what about the abhorrent practices that gave rise to The Jungle? Do we not owe it to everyone to see that their hard work is rewarded equitably?
There are no easy solutions for the problems employers face — this I know and admit. But, I also know that society is so much better when men and women can work together, support one another and be each other's champions. I'm willing to be a champion for men and hope that you'll be a champion for women.
* * *
Paying women less is not even legal
I was appalled reading through James Green's opinion entitled "Equal Pay bill has a serious downside." Mr. Green's central point is that it's good to pay women less than men since "Traditionally men have earned more than women in the workplace because they are considered the primary breadwinners for families."
While the idea that paying women less than men may sound "traditional" to Mr. Green, this idea is not OK and it isn't even legal. For over 50 years, the U.S. Equal Pay Act has expressly forbidden discrimination in pay based on gender. Utah State Code 34A-5-106 also prohibits pay discrimination based on a person's gender. Perhaps Mr. Green is simply unaware of these longstanding laws or maybe he is advocating that our local employers break the law.
Mr. Green also seems ready to ignore the roughly 14% of Utah's families with children that are headed by single women. Perhaps his notion, that men should be paid more, is the reason that in 2008, 30 percent of Utah female-headed families had incomes below the poverty line. While in comparison, only 13 percent of single male-headed families were in poverty.
Equal Pay bills are based on the fundamental American tenet that all people should be treated equally. ALL people. Mr. Green argues that some people should be treated better than others. This is called discrimination, and I applaud the Utah legislature for working against discrimination in all its forms.
Still, I'm not sure which part of Mr. Green's letter concerns me most. Maybe it is his clear disregard for the law. Maybe it is his support for outright pay discrimination against women (44 percent of Utah's workforce). I think what really worries me most is that Mr. Green's signature includes his title as GOP Vice-Chair. Are these the ideas that the GOP wants to see advocated by its party leaders?
* * *
Many contributed to a successful Silver Ski event
Basin Recreation would like to thank our adventurous and active community for making the annual Silver Ski Event such a success. The event, hosted on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at the White Pine Nordic Center, drew over 70 classic and skate ski skiers, many trying the sport for the first time.
Importantly, the event was a great example of local partnerships at work. Special thanks goes out to Logan Jones and the entire staff at White Pine for their generous support of the event, providing free skiing, demo skis, and helpful instruction for all levels. Showcasing another valued relationship, the National Ability Center was on hand to provide information about its winter activities and sit skis for people to try.
Nordic Skiing is yet another way the community can enjoy Basin Recreation's trail network throughout the winter. We groom over 23 miles of connected trails in the Willow Creek Park and Utah Olympic Park areas. These trails are free to the public. More information about the conditions on our winter trails can be found at http://basinrecreation.org/grooming_report.html#top.
Snydervile Basin Rec District Recreation Coordinator
* * *
Trump's mess is his own fault
The condition of our country is far from humorous, very far for many, but listening to the billionaire in chief moan about the big, big mess he has inherited (presumably from the obstructionist legislatures of the last eight years) gave me a good laugh. Remember the real mess Obama inherited — the ongoing Bush invasions of the wrong country and the banking crisis precipitated by the greed, arrogance and hypocrisy of Wall Street? The big mess that I see Trump facing is remembering to tell the truth, not raging at the press every time they catch him straying into alternate fact territory.
* * *
Mr. Green: welcome to a new century
Dear Vice-Chair Green,
You must have been very busy, because guess what, we are no longer in the 1940's or 50's. It's 2017, a new century! 'Leave It To Beaver' and 'Father Knows Best' are no longer on the air and, whether you like it or not, families have changed. While the traditional nuclear family in which the father works and the mother stays home still exists in the U.S. it is in the distinct minority, even in Heber City. Don't take my word for it, go online to the U.S. Census Bureau for the real (not alternative) facts.
Family has taken on a whole new meaning. There are families in which both parents, one parent, or no parents work. There are families in which the wife is the primary breadwinner and the husband stays home with the children. There are families with NO kids because of choice, death, or the children have grown up and moved out of the house. There are single parent families due to death, divorce, or choice. There are blended families with all kinds of combinations of mothers and fathers. And just down the road from me there are polygamist families with one father and several mothers. The thing that they all have in common is that they are all groups of people who form a unit that loves each other, takes care of each other, and works together for the benefit of everyone in the group. Not a bad thing in my opinion. And I don't think it's your place or mine to judge which type of family is best.
So wake up Rip Van Winkle! Join the 21st century! It's not that bad! Equal Work should be reimbursed equally and not be subject to arbitrary pay decisions based on sex, age, religious affiliation, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. The ONLY things that should determine pay scale are job qualifications, years of experience and service, and content and quality of the work.
Celeste Raffin, MD
* * *
Reader recall her own working mom's struggle
So to the man who wrote a letter about the Equal Pay bill being considered by the Utah Legislature, I have a few thoughts:
Regarding your comments about why men need to make enough to support their families and allow the Mother to remain in the home to raise and nurture the children; What if his pay isn't enough to allow the Mother (why capitalized?) to remain in the home, or, what if she actually wants to work? Why are you only talking about Mothers? Are women that are not Mothers, not women?
And why would equality in wages for equal skill sets mean that men will have an even more difficult time earning enough to support their families? Maybe you mean that the men don't actually have equal skill sets and that's what you are afraid of?
I'm gonna go out on a ledge here and state that I think that you think that Mothers are not equal at all, and by inserting themselves in the workforce, they are going to wreak havoc on the patrimony and cracks in the system will follow, by showing that we are equal, competent, and happy to work and contribute to the best of our abilities. I think that scares the hell out of you, as maybe it should.
When times were rough for us, my mom took jobs, even ones she wasn't comfortable with and later, when times were good she found a career that she loved and my dad supported her and he never begrudged her working. Neither did her children.
We loved her. She died today, so this letter is in memory of her. She was a person, equal in every way to my father. She loved us and had a career that was important to her.
She was a woman, a Mother, a wife and worked. She was a quiet force, my mom, and I'm sorry that you seem to see her and others like her as a threat to the sanctity of your place as head of household.
Sometimes the strength of a woman is seen as scary, yet others recognize that strength and welcome it. We are your equals and we deserve your understanding and respect and yes, an equal wage.
Pegeen Liston, Teacher
Salt Lake City
* * *
Paying women more will not decrease pay for men
I respectfully disagree with Mr. Green’s LTE on “Equal Pay Has a Serious Downside”. My disagreement, along with numerous other online commentators, is on many levels. Mr. Green seems to be living in an alternative universe that was idealized in the 1950s but never even existed back then except in some TV sitcoms. Women have honorably worked for many reasons outside the home for well over 100 years. According to the most recent Census Bureau data, there are 43 million full time year around women workers in America compared to 56 million men.
The sad part is that — in spite of federal laws banning discrimination – women only earn $0.77 for every dollar men earn. Mr. Green seems to think this is just fine and by his zero-sum rational, believes that paying women more will result in less pay for men. There is no data to support this hypothesis.
The government does have a role in promoting equality. Because of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the median women’s pay to each dollar a man earns has increased from a horrible $0.61 in 1960 to a still dismal $0.77 in 2009 (Census data). As a nation, we do even worse. We rank #23 in gender pay gap for the wealthy (OECD) nations and #65 out of 142 nations measured by the World Economic Forum. I suspect that Mr. Green would be happy with these numbers. I’m not.
* * *
Emergency room visit shows how diverse work force really is
As an occasional consumer of the excellent medical care that is available to us, I found myself in the local emergency room last night. In order not to cause discomfort for the individuals in this story, I won't use names or list individual facilities, but I assure you that none of what I report is "fake news." Every incident and individual is real.
So here I am getting emergency services on Immigrants Awareness Day. Fortunately, a number of the people who served were working, although it was a day that many people not born in this country stayed home in protest of policies that I am not writing to judge or protest. My brain scan was done by a person from eastern Europe, a nurse was Hispanic and the person cleaning up each emergency bay was from Africa. Also, I had a heart catheterization two years ago performed by excellent doctors from Iran (yes Iran) and India.
I'm really glad that all these people are here, along with the medical staff and emergency personnel that were born here but could certainly trace their ancestry back to foreign lands, as can I. So, in the midst of current rhetoric, let's pause and remember that we are truly a nation of immigrants.
My heart was found to be healthy and I'm home today in good shape.
* * *
Chaos caused by Trump has spread beyond Muslim ban
While the entire country is caught up in the chaos caused by Donald Trump's orders on the "Muslim Ban" and the controversy over his nominees for various Cabinet appointments, several additional horror stories are unfolding under the radar about which the American public needs to be aware.
Do you know that Social Security recipients who are unable to take care of their own affairs because they are schizophrenic are no longer banned from purchasing a gun?
Do you know that manufacturers can now dump their manufacturing waste products into our rivers and streams without any consequences?
Do you know that the Department of Agriculture no longer has a website where a puppy buyer can check to see if the person selling the animal is reputable or just a "puppy mill"?
I guess Donald Trump will make America great again by giving people jobs cleaning up the dirty streams which the manufacturers will pollute; making people animal control officers to round up the untrainable dogs being sold; and teaching people how to clean up the carnage left by mentally ill people who shoot their neighbors and family with now legally purchased guns.
We are certainly living in an alternative reality these past several weeks into Donald Trump's administration. Everything good and safe and sane is being torn down, torn apart and destroyed just because he can.
I fear that our children and grandchildren will live in a less healthy, less cultured and less safe USA — is not the best of times!