Wage Gap

Discussing women’s rights and equality has become controversial, but feminism shouldn’t be a controversial topic. Women and girls are sometimes perceived as crazy if they want to talk about equal rights. Some people don’t think feminism is necessary today, and others think asking for gender equality makes a person stuck-up. But this stereotype isn’t good. Women and men should be able to talk about this topic because it’s important to everyone. The wage gap is especially important to me, but it shouldn’t be something that only concerns women because the wage gap impacts everyone.

“Women make 78% as much as men.” This is the most commonly cited statistic when talking about the wage gap, and it can seem pretty simplistic. However, a lot of factors contribute to that number, and there are other ways of measuring the wage gap.* Firstly, it’s important to know where the number 78% comes from. This is measured from the Census data. It measures all annual income for employees who work full-time and year-round.

Does the wage gap really matter? Why is it such a big deal that women earn 22% less than men? It takes women about one year and three months to make what a man makes in one year. This really is a big difference. Also, having any wage gap implies that men’s work is worth more than the work of women. This is certainly not a good precedent to set. If the wage gap was eliminated, many people would benefit. The country’s GDP would increase by 9%. The poverty rate for families where both parents work would fall by 25%.

Why is there such a large gap? Many factors contribute to the wage gap. Some employers just discriminate against women in general. Pay secrecy makes this easier to achieve. If employees don’t know what their co workers are earning, they won’t know if they are being paid fairly. Employers may be less likely to hire or promote young women because they may have children in the future. Also, women who have children make less than women who don’t have children. Employers penalize women who take time off to raise their children. Some studies find that women tend to work in lower paying jobs. This contributes to the wage gap. Women are pushed out of higher-paying male-dominated jobs. This can be seen when the wage gap is broken up by state.* Wyoming has the largest wage gap. In Wyoming, there are many jobs in natural resource extraction. The workforce for these jobs is composed primarily of men, and these jobs pay fairly well. In Washington, D.C., where the wage gap is the smallest, most jobs are office jobs, and the workforce is composed of both men and women. This reveals yet another problem. Male-dominated jobs, such as mining, pay more than female-dominated jobs.

Many people still don’t think the wage gap is a big problem or think it has a big impact on them. The wage gap has grown smaller over time. Recently, however, the wage gap has stopped growing smaller. In 1972 women only earned 58% as men, and in 2007 women earn 77.8% as much as men. That’s a huge improvement, however from 2007 to 2015 the wage gap only changed by 0.2%.

Surprisingly, in America, the wage gap is particularly high compared to other countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an organization of developed countries that promotes world trade and the economy. According to the OECD, the United States has the fifth largest wage gap out of 28 countries. The U.S. is tied with Canada, Austria, Finland, and Switzerland. The countries with the smallest gap are Hungary, Spain, and Poland. Korea has the largest wage gap.

*The Labor Department measures the wage gap by using weekly wages, and it doesn’t include self-employed workers. They state that women make 82% of the amount that men make.

*Indiana has the fifth largest wage gap in the nation.

Sources:
http://www.vox.com/cards/gender-wage-gap-men-women-pay/what-is-the-gender-wage-gap
http://www.vox.com/2014/4/9/5597392/fancy-math-cant-erase-the-gender-pay-gap
http://www.oecd.org/unitedstates/
http://www.dol.gov/equalpay/
http://www.aauw.org/2014/09/18/gender-pay-gap/
http://c1355372.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/2e18fceb-9fda-44d9-bd26-bb06fef8ea22/Newsletter%20April%202012%20Proof%201.pdf

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Immigration

President Obama’s latest executive actions make a few big changes and several smaller changes to immigration policy.

1. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) will be expanded.

President Obama isn’t new to immigration reform. His recent executive actions regarding immigration aren’t his first changes to immigration policy. In 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was put into place. Childhood arrivals are people who illegally entered the United States when they were younger than 16. DACA allows eligible immigrants to apply for deferred government action. Deferred action enables the government to make a formal determination not to pursue deportation of an unlawfully present individual for a specific period of time. (After the specified amount of time, eligible immigrants must reapply to maintain their status of deferred action with the government.)

2012 through present:

  • DACA grants deferred action for two years.
  • Eligible applicants for this program must have been in the U.S. since 2007.
  • Eligible applicants must have entered the U.S. when they were younger than 16.
  • Eligible applicants must have been younger than 30 as of 2012.
  • Eligible applicants must have graduated from high school, have a GED, or be in high school
  • Eligible applicants must not have a serious criminal record.

Under the new executive actions:

  • DACA will cover immigrants who are older than 30 (but still came to the U.S. when they were younger than 16)
  • DACA will cover immigrants who entered between 2007 and 2011
  • Deferred action will last for 3 years, not just 2. 

2. Parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders will be able to get deferred action.

This program will run similarly to DACA. Eligible immigrants will be given deferred action for three years. Parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders who have been in the country for at least five years qualify as eligible immigrants. They are eligible even if their children are over the age of eighteen. This new program will cover about 4 million people.

These first two actions are not a path to citizenship or legal status. Only Congress is allowed to grant that. This will give immigrants who qualify and apply three years during which they won’t be deported. However, if they don’t reapply after three years or if the program ends, they could be deported.

3. The Secure Communities program will be reformed.

Secure communities is a program that sends the fingerprints of anyone booked in a local jail to immigration officers. Immigration officials can then request that local police hold the inmate until immigration officials can pick him up. This program will be reformed. Secure communities has been used to deport unauthorized immigrants who aren’t serious criminals. Now it will only be used to deport immigrants who have committed a serious crime. Also, rather than asking police to hold a person past the date when he was supposed to be released, immigration officials will just ask when he is to be released and then pick him up.

4. Deportation priorities will be reformed.

New priorities focus on undocumented immigrants who have committed a serious crime and undocumented immigrants who entered the United States in 2014. If someone doesn’t meet the priorities, agents will have to prove to their office director why that person should be deported.

5. Border security will be increased.

6. Spouses of green card holders will now be able to apply for legal status in the United States.

7. Foreign students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) will be allowed to work in the United States for up to 2.5 years after they graduate.

This program is called Optional Practical Training. Currently, STEM students can stay in the country for up to 17 months.

8. It will be easier for foreign entrepreneurs to get visas.  

Opposing views

Some people, especially members of the Republican party, question the President’s decision to take these executive actions. Some have argued that deferred action is only supposed to be used in specific cases not on a large scale, while others think he should have waited for congress to pass a bill. Republicans can try to stop this action in a few ways. Congress may attempt to pass a law to diminish presidential authority over deferred action. (However, President Obama would probably veto it.) Congress may attach riders to the annual appropriations bills that would end the immigrations programs. If such bills would be vetoed or if Democrats filibuster them the government could shut down. Republicans could also try to sue the administration. Congress cannot take away funding  for the new program because the US Citizenship and Immigration Services is funded by application fees and not by congressional appropriations. Politically, republicans will try to make this work for them by saying that President Obama has flip-flopped. (Previously, the President didn’t believe he had the power to take action on immigration policy.)

Others believe that President Obama’s executive actions were beneficial.The thought behind granting deferred action to parents of citizens and green card holders is that these people will be eligible for legal status eventually. U.S. citizens can apply for their parents to get legal status when they are 21. However, it is hard for the parents to gain legal status if they’ve ever been unauthorized. Also, before their children are 21, they can’t apply for legal status. So, this allows them to stay in the country until they can get lasting legal status through their children.

Concerning secure communities, many cities and states have already stated that they will only honor federal requests to pick up an immigrant in some circumstances, and the government is just following their example.

For the deferred action programs to be effective, people will need to apply. This could be difficult, but the already existing DACA program provides some pre existing framework. However, it is important to note that, if a republican president is elected, he could end this program. A future president could even use information from the program to find and deport immigrants who were protected. For the program to be effective, democrats need to express how safe the program is. But politically they’ll want to show how the program is unstable in order to have a high voter turnout.

4.5 million American children have at least one parent who is an undocumented immigrant. If a child’s parents are deported, the child is put in foster care. If the parents are in a detention center or another country, it is hard for them to be involved in custody hearings.  Children are often put up for adoption without notifying their parents or against their parents’ wishes. Separating families doesn’t help anyone. Children whose parents are deported are more likely to fall behind in school. Deporting parents doesn’t make it less likely for people to illegally enter the country. The new program and deportation priorities put in place by President Obama should prevent these families from being broken up.

Sources

Gomez, Alan. “Highlights from Obama’s Immigration Plan.” USA Today. Gannett, 20 Nov. 2014 Web. 23 Nov. 2014.

Lind, Dara. “Obama’s Huge New Immigration Plan, Explained.” Vox. Vox Media, 21 Nov. 2014 Web. 22 Nov. 2014.

Vaughn, Jessica. “What Is Deferred Action?” Center for Immigration Studies. N.p., 15 June 2012 Web. 22 Nov. 2014.

Iraq and ISIS

What’s Happening?

This week a terrorist organization has been violently taking over cities in Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also called ISIS, is a large group of extremist Sunni Islamist militants. ISIS is the group that has been carrying out these attacks. On Tuesday, June 10, 2014, the militants took Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. They were very brutal, and many people were forced to flee. A United Nations agency reported that about 500,000 people left the city. ISIS gained control Mosul’s airport and army base. They also had access to money from banks and weapons from military bases. Along with being Iraq’s second largest city, there are many other characteristics that make it appealing to the terrorists. For one, Mosul is historically the home to Iraq’s oil industry. It is also Iraq’s biggest link to Syria, and it is located close to Turkey. In fact, Turkey, a NATO ally, could be brought in to this struggle. A lot of Turkish citizens were being detained on Wednesday after being captured by militants in Mosul. Among those being held were three children and the Turkish consul general. In regards to this situation the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu stated, “No one should try to test the limits of Turkey’s strength.” On Wednesday, ISIS headed south closer toward Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, and Baiji, the location of Iraq’s largest oil refinery. On Sunday, ISIS took the city of Tal Afar,  a city between Mosul and Iraq’s border with Syria. Also on Sunday, Iraq’s army and ISIS clashed 18 miles away from Baquba, a city 37 miles northeast of Baghdad. If ISIS took Baquba, they would have a three-pronged approach to Baghdad from the west, north, and northeast.   

How is Iraq’s government responding?

The government has been able to do little to stop the progress of the militants, which is a major worry for the country. A 10:00 p.m. curfew has been established in and around the capital. Also, an influential Shiite cleric has asked for special forces to protect chief religious sites.

How are the United States and other countries going to be affected and respond?

The most likely way an average American will be affected by this situation is when getting gas. The conflicts have caused oil prices to go way up, and stock prices are going down. Also, the U.S. State Department stated that, “Travel within Iraq remains dangerous given the security situation.” It is likely that the U.S. will consider giving some assistance to Iraq’s military. President Obama told reporters, “Iraq’s going to need more help. It’s going to need more help from us, and it’s going to need more help from the international community.” A White House spokesperson followed up by saying that sending in U.S. troops was not being considered as an option. The U.S. could respond in other ways by providing help in the form of airstrikes, military power for Iraq’s military, or by enforcing political change in Iraq. The U.S. sent between 50 and 100 marines and army personnel to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad for protection. The country of Iran, which borders Iraq, has withdrawn all visas and flights for religious pilgrims to Baghdad. (As Iran’s population is mostly Shiite, and the militants are Sunni.) They have also increased border security and sent 500 troops to Iraq to help the government.

More about ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a group of militants that grew from Al-Qaeda. (It is also called The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The Levant is the Eastern Mediterranean region and consists of the following countries Cyprus,Israel,Jordan,Lebanon,Syria,Palestine, and part of Turkey.) They wish to create an Islamic state across the region. The leader of the group is Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. They distinguished themselves as a group that fights against government but also maintains control over captured territory. ISIS was once a branch of Al-Qaeda, but later broke away from the group. In early 2013, ISIS decided to absorb another militant group in Syria. However, this group rejected being absorbed by ISIS. Al-Qaeda tried to mediate the dispute between the two groups, but they eventually chose to disown ISIS. ISIS first entered Iraq when they took over the city of Fallujah.   

Sunnis and Shiites

Islam is split into two main groups: Sunni and Shia. The split first occurred right after Prophet Muhammad died. There were two groups that each wanted different leaders. The two groups both have the same core beliefs. Some of these include the belief that Allah is the one and only god, the belief that Muhammad was the last prophet, and the belief that all Muslims should make a pilgrimage to Mecca. However, there are differences in their laws, traditions, and theology. The majority of Muslims are Sunnis, however most of Iraq’s population is Shiite. The two groups are often involved in disagreements.  

Sources

Al-salhy, Suadad, and Tim Arango. “Iraq Militants, Pushing South, Aim at Capital.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 June 2014. Web. 13 June 2014.

Elgot, Jessica. “US ‘Will Not Rule Anything Out’ On Iraq (Except One Thing).” The Huffington Post UK. N.p., 13 June 2014. Web. 13 June 2014.

Robins-Early, Nick. “A Group Too Extreme For Al Qaeda Just Took Over Iraq’s Second Biggest City.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 11 June 2014. Web. 11 June 2014.

Smith-Spark, Laura, Faith Karimi, Salma Abdelaziz, Hamdi Alkhshali, Yousuf Basil, Jim Acosta, Jason Hanna, and Mohammed Tawfeeq. “Obama: Iraq Needs U.S., International Help as ISIS Threatens to Seize More Cities.” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 12 June 2014.

What’s Happening in Ukraine?

Western Ukrainians have been protesting their county’s decision not to accept a deal with the European Union. Protests have been occurring between western Ukrainians and police since November 2013 when Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, chose to dismiss an association agreement with the European Union. The EU’s deal only offers trade and investment, not financial aid. Many people in Ukraine want to take this deal because it would bring Ukraine closer to being a European or western country, rather than part of Russia.

Russia has been pressuring Ukraine to abandon the proposed deal with the European Union. Currently, a free-trade regime exists between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine’s products sell well in Russia due to their good quality and prices. In November, Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, said that due to the existing free-trade regime between Moscow and Kiev, Russia would be getting too many European products if Ukraine took the deal.

If Ukraine accepts the EU’s deal, there is a risk that Russia will end the trade regime. This would really hurt Ukraine’s economy. To further complications, Russia supplies most of Ukraine’s natural gas and controls the price of it. Rather than taking the deal from the European Union, Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president, accepted a deal where Russia agreed to buy Ukraine’s debt and lower gas prices. Regardless of Russia’s influence, the EU is still hoping to have Ukraine accept a deal with them.

This decision has angered many people in Western Ukraine. Why just western Ukraine? Well, Ukraine is split between Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers. This split was caused by a deadly famine that Joseph Stalin carried out in 1932. After millions of Ukrainians died, deported Russians took their place. Western Ukraine was not impacted by this, because it was a part of Poland. Today, half of the country leans towards Europe, while the other half leans more towards Russia. For example, many cities in western Ukraine resemble typical European cities, but towns in eastern Ukraine look much like Russian towns.

On January 16, laws against the right to protest were passed. The laws caused once peaceful protesters to turn to violence. On January 28, 2014, the laws were repealed, and the prime minister resigned. People in Ukraine said this was a good step, but they want to see the constitution reformed and the president replaced. In the past week, tensions have continued to rise. Protestors and police officers alike have become more and more violent. Examples include protesters burning police officers and a group of police officers forcing a protestor to take his clothes off in the snow. President Yanukovych came back to the office on Monday after taking a sick leave. Members of parliament hope that a decision can be reached soon.

The European Union is an union of twenty-eight countries in Europe that operates as one economic group under the Euro, the EU’s currency. Some members include Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

When a few countries agree to reduce regulations and taxes on imports and exports, a free-trade regime occurs.

Moscow is the capital of Russia, and Ukraine’s capital city is Kiev.

 

Surveys

Every year your state representative and your state senator mail you a survey about topics that will be discussed in congress. Many representatives and senators listen to what you say in these surveys, so it’s important that you fill them out. You should know all you can about the topics you are being surveyed on. I researched some of the topics from Indiana’s survey.

Under federal health-care reform, Indiana can expand Medicaid to cover more Hoosiers, but it would cost taxpayers over $1.4 billion by 2020. Do you support or oppose expanding Medicaid?
Well, first you need to understand what Medicaid really is.
Medicaid is a program financed by both the federal and state governments that provides medical care to many of the nation’s most susceptible low-income people. States are required to cover certain benefits and can add more if they choose. States must also cover certain groups of people, but can cover more people if they want.
Then you need to consider the pros and cons to expanding Medicaid.
Cons to expanding Medicaid:
• If the state chooses to expand Medicaid, it will cost taxpayers approximately 1.4 billion dollars by 2020.
Pros to expanding Medicaid:
• In 2000, Medicaid covered 44 million people.
o 22.6 million children, 12 million elderly or disabled people, and 9.2 million adults
• It pays for the care of about 2/3’s of nursing home residents.

Do you support the elimination of township government?
So, what is township government and what does it do?
• Townships in Indiana consist of a township trustee and a three-member board.
• The trustee has the following duties:
o Providing fire protection and ambulance service to unincorporated areas of the county ( parts of the county that aren’t a part of a town)
o Burying the indigent
o Maintaining cemeteries
o Resolving fence disputes
o Investigating claims of livestock killed by dogs
o Managing weeds and underbrush
o Organizing the township budget
o Preparing an annual financial report
• The board’s duties include:
o Annual budget
o Approving township contracts
o Approving the annual report that shows all the townships expenses and debts
• The township trustee is elected every four years. The board is also elected every four years.

Should the state increase the gas tax?
• A gas tax is a tax on the sale of fuel. The money made from the tax is often used for transportation projects.
• Right now in Indiana we pay a gas tax of $0.18 per gallon plus a 7% sales tax.

Do you support or oppose requiring law enforcement to collect a DNA sample from criminal suspects in addition to their fingerprints?
DNA sampling is basically where law enforcement collects a sample of saliva from criminal suspects.
Pros to DNA sampling:
• DNA sampling (done by collecting saliva) poses no danger to people.
• Taking DNA samples from arrestees would dramatically improve law enforcement’s efficiency and effectiveness in solving crimes.
• DNA sampling is a much more accurate way to solve crimes.
Cons to DNA sampling:
• DNA samples can be misused in a variety of ways. (i.e. insurance companies could use them to determine if you have a genetic disease)
• DNA labs are so backlogged that it often takes forever to get results.
• The costs could outweigh any possible benefits.

When filling out a legislative survey, remember to be as informed as possible on all sides of the issue before making your choice. Also, be aware of any bias in the questions.

Welcome to my Blog

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Hello, and welcome to my blog! My name is Cate, and I am a high school student from Indiana. I love reading, following current events, doing crafts, swimming, running, and hanging out with my family and friends. I also enjoy walking my dog and writing to my pen pal. I am involved in lots of after school activities including cross country and track. I plan to blog about current events and politics. I hope you enjoy my blog!