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Rhetoric Seldom Matches Reality Of Motherhood

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Rhetoric Seldom Matches Reality Of Motherhood


The one good thing about Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s campaign for the presidency is that he provides many opportunities to point out to the rest of the country what we here in Ohio have known for too many years.

The man is no moderate. One of the ways he proves this, over and over again, is by how he talks about women. I may enjoy a little too much sharing the moment in 2012 when Kasich took the stage and offered this description of politicians’ wives:

“You know, Jane Portman, Karen Kasich and Janna Ryan, they operate an awful lot of the time in the shadows. It’s not easy to be a spouse of an elected official. You know, they’re at home, doing the laundry and doing so many things, while we’re up here on the stage getting a little bit of applause, right?”

As a full-time columnist married to a U.S. senator, I found this description of my life utterly fascinating. I do laundry, all right, but to tell the world I’m never applauded for the effort crosses a line, big-time.

If you’re one of those old-fashioned reasonable Republicans tempted to argue that Kasich is certainly more moderate than some of his fellow presidential candidates, please stop right there and think about what you’re about to say.

If it takes Donald — Round up the Muslims! — Trump and Ted — Science? We don’t need no stinkin’ science! — Cruz to make John Kasich look reasonable, we might as well move this shindig of a primary to a moisture farm on the three-moon planet of Tatooine.

Last week, Kasich was speaking at a campaign event in New Hampshire, when a man in the crowd asked where the candidate stands on paid maternity leave.

Keep in mind that we are the only industrialized country without paid maternity leave. Say that out loud, and then remind yourself it’s 2016.

Kasich is just fine with that. His response, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch:

“The one thing we need to do for working women is to give them the flexibility to be able to work at home online. The reason why that’s important is, when women take maternity leave or time to be with the children, then what happens is they fall behind on the experience level, which means that the pay becomes a differential. And we need to accommodate women who want to be at home, having a healthy baby and in fact being involved, however many years they want to take care of the family.”


Sorry, so sorry, about that moment of rambling. Mine, I mean. I should have stopped banging my head against my late father’s 12-pound wrench propped up on my desk before I started typing again.

Kasich’s telecommuting suggestion would work so well for nurses, teachers, police officers, factory workers, doctors, waitresses, cashiers, baristas — you know, any woman in a job that involves something other than tapping the keys on a laptop. Did he even hear himself? I wonder that. A lot.

About those mothers who, in Kasich’s mind, could work from home: What fun for bone-tired mothers caring for newborns whose idea of sleep is a brief flutter of eyelids between feedings. Has this man never spent a day with a newborn?

As for the majority of you mothers who don’t work in jobs that allow you to telecommute: Poof. You’re invisible in Kasich Land. Problem solved.

I admit to feeling more than a little intemperate about all this because, in the past three years, our family has grown by four grandchildren. Two of them were born in the past three months.

My husband and I rushed in to help, because we could, which makes us luckier than most grandparents our age. Every time we’re with our daughters, who are fortunate enough to have jobs that let them spend the first few weeks with their babies, we leave wondering how all those mothers without their advantages manage to do it all.

We know the answer. We all do. Except John Kasich, maybe.

The heartbreaking truth is that mothers without paid maternity leave try, try, try — too often without help and without hope, too. They are never able to get ahead, and their children start out behind.

This, from the country that President Barack Obama declared during Tuesday’s State of the Union address to be “the most powerful nation on earth, period.”

Tell that to the mothers.

Better yet, prove it.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM

Photo: Jessica Lucia via Flickr

Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicated. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has also published two books: Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths -- a collection of her previously published columns -- and ...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, which chronicled her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

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  1. Serenity Valley January 14, 2016

    I love columns like this.

    Having children is a very serious personal responsibility. One facet of that people need to ask themselves is if they are financially prepared for it. But people like Schultz eschew such personal responsibility for a Federal handout. Other peoples money and all that.

    Tell me Schultz how would you pay for mandated maternity leave? More taxes? Do you think that’ll work for a small business with 10 people?

    I noticed you left out some context in quoting Mr Kasich. He also stated that he is in favor of states and companies working out this issue voluntarily. That would seem to be the better approach then yet another federal one size fits all centrally planned approach.

    A company should be free to develop its own maternity leave policy, including paid leave. If enough companies do so they will find themselves having an advantage over a company that foes not offer such leave.

    But that would run counter to what collectivists such as yourself want – total control of private businesses by the federal government. Because we all know people like you know what’s best for everyone. For their own good, of course.

    1. CrankyToo January 14, 2016

      “A company should be free to develop its own maternity leave policy…”

      Sure. And it should be free to develop its own policies regarding overtime, safety, child labor, (minimum) wages, health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. There should be no Government oversight or regulation of these aspects of employment, because regulation is counter-productive to free-market capitalism. Right?

      Moreover, as we all know, the captains of American industry are such altruistic, compassionate sorts that they would, of their own volition, place the welfare of their workers above profits and shareholder dividends. There’s no need to regulate corporate behavior.

      Ain’t life grand in Serenity Valley?

      I can envision someone with your business acumen appointed as President Trump’s Secretary of Commerce. We’ll bring back 19th century sweatshops and call it the Second Industrial Revolution.

      You’re what stupid people think a smart person sounds like.

      1. Otto Greif January 14, 2016

        We should get rid of the minimum wage, it hurts low skill labor, and health insurance shouldn’t be employer provided, it only is because of a regressive tax subsidy.

        1. CrankyToo January 14, 2016

          You’re what smart people think a stupid person sounds like.

          1. Otto Greif January 14, 2016

            Just stating facts. You’re really emotional.

          2. Renfield January 15, 2016

            Your facts about wages aren’t facts. I suspect that doesn’t bother you, though.

          3. Renfield January 15, 2016

            I read it. Doesn’t prove what you say it does.

          4. Otto Greif January 15, 2016

            You suck at reading.

          5. dtgraham January 16, 2016

            Sorry Otto, but extensive research refutes the claim that increasing the minimum wage causes increased unemployment and business closures.

            The buying power of the minimum wage reached its peak in 1968 at $10.97 per hour, adjusting for inflation in 2015 dollars. The unemployment rate went from 3.8% in 1967 to 3.6% in 1968 to 3.5% in 1969. The next time the unemployment rate came close to those levels was after the minimum wage raises of 1996 and 1997. Business Week observed in 2001, “Many economists have backed away from the argument that minimum wage [laws] lead to fewer jobs.”

            Numerous states raised their minimum wages higher than the federal level during the 1997-2007 period that the federal minimum wage remained stuck at $5.15 per hour. Research by the Fiscal Policy Institute and others showed that states which raised their minimum wages above the federal level experienced better employment and small business trends than states that did not.

            A series of rigorous studies by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, significantly advanced the research on minimum wage employment effects.

            “Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders” compared all neighboring counties in the U.S. located on different sides of a state border, with different minimum wage levels between 1990 and 2006, and found no adverse employment effects from a higher minimum

          6. Otto Greif January 16, 2016

            From the link I provided above:

            “the oft-stated assertion that recent research fails to support the traditional view that the minimum wage reduces the employment of low-wage workers is clearly incorrect. A sizable majority of the studies surveyed in this monograph give a relatively consistent (although not always statistically significant) indication of negative employment effects of minimum wages. In addition, among the papers we view as providing the most credible evidence, almost all point to negative employment effects, both for the United States as well as for many other countries. Two other important conclusions emerge from our review. First, we see very few – if any – studies that provide convincing evidence of positive employment effects of minimum wages, especially from those studies that focus on the broader groups (rather than a narrow industry) for which the competitive model predicts disemployment effects. Second, the studies that focus on the least-skilled groups provide relatively overwhelming evidence of stronger disemployment effects for these groups.”

          7. dtgraham January 16, 2016

            Even they admit that there isn’t a consensus on the effects of minimum wage increases on low wage employment. Even they admit to that. The only reason that there still isn’t a full consensus, is because there are always contrarian cranks with an agenda in any attempt to study something. Some still deny a link between smoking and cancer. Three percent of climate scientists still deny man-made climate change.

            I notice that they want to focus on one narrow industry or one special group. There is plenty of research and data to show the lack of correlation between minimum wage rates and employment levels, within a range. Within a range, because obviously an increase to $100.00 per hour is going to have some effect. The lack of correlation and effect within a range is now broadly accepted.

          8. Otto Greif January 16, 2016

            The “contrarian cranks” are those who continue to deny the negative effect minimum wage increases have on low skill workers in the face of all the evidence.

          9. dtgraham January 17, 2016

            Like you Otto. The professional contrarian crank.

          10. Renfield January 16, 2016

            Sure, pal. No doubt a close reading of this month’s Field and Stream would prove the point to you. In real life, nobody pays any attention to abusive nitwits. You should be thankful for the Internet.

          11. dtgraham January 16, 2016

            “Our review indicates that there is a wide range of existing estimates and, accordingly,
            a lack of consensus about the overall effects on low-wage employment of an increase in the minimum

            That’s from his own Wascher and Neumark link no less, and they’re far right ideologues with an agenda.

      2. dtgraham January 14, 2016


        1. CrankyToo January 14, 2016

          Cheers, DT. See you at the polls in a few months – when we send the Turd Party to its just rewards.

          1. dtgraham January 14, 2016

            The Turds have a real shot at losing the Senate this year. Of the 34 seats currently up in 2016, the Turds will be defending 24, including 7 in states that Obama carried in 2012. Eight of the ten seats that the Democrats will be defending are in states that Obama carried with at least 54% of the vote in 2012, and they don’t look vulnerable in any of them.

            Furthermore, in a nation that increasingly votes straight ticket, there is a high correlation between voting for President and voting for Senate. Look at both Hillary’s and Bernie’s numbers in a straight general election match up against their Turd opponents. Especially Bernie’s numbers. They continue to leave their Turd Party opponents eating dust.

          2. CrankyToo January 15, 2016

            Prescient analysis, my friend. I have to admit, I’m real optimistic. But it’s all gonna come down to turnout from the left. In any case, given the numbers you cite, McConnell must be sh!tting green bricks at the prospect of losing his majority leadership so soon.

            And if the Democrats do, indeed, retake the Senate, it’ll be interesting to see how those odious Senate Repugnicans behave going forward. Will they throw another tantrum and filibuster the country back into idle? Given their tendency toward petulance, and their breathtaking lack of statesmanship, my guess is that either Hillary or Bernie is in for a long and frustrating eight years.

          3. dtgraham January 15, 2016

            My guess too Cranky. Even one Senator can gum up the works by design, and the House controls the purse strings. They can effectively block most of what any President wants to do.

            What to do when you have a governing system built on cooperation and compromise, and one party no longer wants anything to do with that? Those days are gone with the wind in Republican circles.

          4. CrankyToo January 15, 2016

            Dig it.

  2. dtgraham January 14, 2016

    “Do you think that’ll work for a small business with 10 people?” Yes, because they’re not paying for it. Paid parental leave is financed publicly abroad, and also in the four U.S. states that offer it.

    If governments didn’t do this, it wouldn’t happen except in certain sectors of the economy with large companies employing very highly skilled people. It would exist, to an extent, only in that scenario due to the competition for top notch talent. Most workers would have no access to it.

    They also would have no access to the things that Cranky Too mentioned. That came with the realization, in the 20th century, that government had a role to play in a civilized society.

    Anyway, according to a 2011 study by California’s Center for Economic and Policy Research after the state implemented paid leave, 91% of businesses said it had a
    positive effect on profitability or no effect at all — that is, it didn’t show any disadvantages whatsoever. It just makes good economic sense.

    1. CrankyToo January 14, 2016

      “If governments didn’t do this, it wouldn’t happen except in certain
      sectors of the economy with large companies employing very highly
      skilled people. It would exist, to an extent, only in that scenario due
      to the competition for top notch talent. Most workers would have no
      access to it.”

      Perfect pitch; spot on.

  3. plc97477 January 15, 2016

    Unfortunately those mothers are too busy and too stressed to take the time to vote so no politician cares about their problems. Pols only care about those who vote or give them lots of money.


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