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Four female comedians, Bitsy Biron, Tracy Dolan, Josie Leavitt, and Nicole Sisk, raised questions, laughter and funds at last month’s Vermont Emerge event to elect more women.

Rickey Gard Diamond’s most recent article on political organizing by women appeared in the October/November 2016  issue of Vermont Woman. 

Two Vermont events before the election  highlighted the development of women’s networks and organizational alliances, intended to benefit women leaders, the economy and all Vermonters in the coming months, as well the 2017 state legislative session. Yet they also raised some questions about sustainable energy: namely women’s.

Emerge Vermont, an organization founded in 2013 to train women how to run for public office, is expanding its horizons this year beyond the Vermont Statehouse to include local governing bodies such as school boards and town select boards. They celebrated this addition at a well-attended fund-raiser in Burlington on October 13, Stand Up for Emerge. They have already graduated 42 women, 17 just this year; a crowd of about 50 alumnae, interested leaders and elected state senators and representatives connected over cocktails, warming up for the comedy event attended by about a hundred people.

At the end of the show, Vermont Emerge founder, former Governor Madeleine M. Kunin, gave a pitch for funds to go to the Cheryl Hanna Scholarship, established in 2014. Kunin said women are well known in political circles for writing smaller checks, but urged those raising their hands for donation envelopes to dig deeper. “Men are more used to writing bigger checks,” she commented.

The scholarship’s most recent recipient, 2016 alum Ana Cimino Burk, a student at Vermont Law School and co-chair of its Women’s Law Group, spoke movingly about Emerge’s importance to her. Without the group’s scholarship, know-how and network of support, she wouldn’t feel as confident after losing a close race. There were other races in the future to win, she said. She sounded very sure of it.

The second event of another important women’s alliance, held October 19 in Montpelier, threw more light on Kunin’s comment about women’s smaller checks—where you might not expect it. Vermont Women Business Owners Network (WBON) held their 2016 conference at the Statehouse and Vermont’s History Museum, not only to network and learn new skills, but also to hear an awaited report on women’s economic status from yet another coalition: Vermont’s Change the Story campaign. Their presentation, this time on business ownership, took place in the House chamber, which was filled to overflowing.

Change the Story joins efforts of the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Works for Women and the Vermont Commission on Women to present clearer research on women’s economic standing in the state. Their purpose and reasoning is put simply in their logo: Advancing Women; Powering the Economy. This newest data revealed a gap between the revenues of male- and female-owned businesses that averaged 19 to 1; the crowd’s surprise was audible.

Change the Story’s report showed that women business owners are under-represented in the highest-grossing sectors, though the revenue gap between male-owned and female firms held true in every sector, even those where women’s businesses are the majority, as in “healthcare and social assistance.” Existing business data sources “are less useful in revealing nuanced information,” they said about still unanswered questions, such as: what drives this huge revenue gap, what are net incomes after expenses, and why are women so underrepresented in higher revenue sectors?

A Glass Half Full

At both October networking events, the prospect for change and support for women’s expanding public role was in the air. The mood was serious yet light-hearted, the language encouraging, friendly, inclusive—far different from the national presidential campaign, still barking in the background.

Any nastiness or resentment stayed off stage unless laughter could soften it. Stand Up for Emerge brought us four women standup comedians, Tracy Dolan, Bitsy Biron, Josie Leavitt and Nicole Sisk. Sisk set the tone, first on stage, saying she had recently been watching old James Bond films. Just for fun. This prompted uneasy snickers.

There he was, she said, painting the scene: kissing a beautiful woman. But then he sees, reflected in her gorgeous eyeball, an evil villain sneaking up behind him. So Bond pivots, with the woman still in hand, using her as a shield until he next heaves her body at his enemy. “And suddenly,” she joked, “I saw my true purpose as a woman before me.” Loud laughter spoke the crowd’s relief: no need to mention the female-bodied shields and weapons of a certain orange-haired presidential candidate.

Similarly, at the WBON conference during Change the Story’s presentation, Laura Lind-Blum of Research Partners, urged a high-spirited approach for those who might call parts of their women’s business report “bad news.” She suggested women reframe that 19:1 business revenue ratio as a picture of women’s “unleashed potential.”

Good News and Bad News

Good news exists in Vermont in both arenas of women’s commerce and her governing. Women own 32 percent of Vermont’s privately owned businesses, numbering 23,417 in all, we learned. Our rate of business ownership, at 7.25 percent of all working age women, is nearly twice the national average. Totaled up, Vermont women business owners’ annual revenues came to $2.2 billion. They created 36,326 full- and part-time jobs, reported Change the Story.

Similarly, Vermont women’s participation in the state legislature shines. Our rate of 40 percent of representation at the Statehouse, ranked nationally, is second only to Colorado.

Yet as Emerge Vermont director Ruth Hardy said in a recent VW interview, women are 51 percent of the population. Nationally there are over 500,000 elected offices, and women fill less than a quarter of the positions.

Don’t be quick to assume Vermont is better than that. Only 21 percent of our town councils seat women. We now have one woman mayor. We’ve elected a single woman governor. We are one of the last three states to send a woman to the US Congress; if Delaware elects a woman as expected this fall, Vermont will be left in the company of—OMG, Mississippi.

When you include other state positions, as does Representation 2020, an organization working for parity by the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage (see link below), Vermont ranks 41st in women’s representation in a ranking of 50 states. It stings a little to discover our neighbor, New Hampshire, ranks first in parity.

These numbers helped fuel Emerge Vermont’s latest efforts to help women represent us in more local arenas of democratic governance. Our public business, along with private enterprise, shows more need to harness what Blum called women’s “unleashed potential.” As Hardy wrote in an article we link to below, “Why Women Should Run (and Why You Should Vote for Them),” women know how to listen, and how to collaborate to solve problems.

Change the Story dared imagine the difference women could make in the world of commerce. If Vermont women chose business ownership at the same rate as Vermont men, we would see 10,500 new businesses, resulting in an estimated 5200 new jobs. If women’s firms with employees matched the revenues of equivalent male-owned firms, Vermont’s economy would grow by $3.8 billion dollars.

This isn’t far-fetched, but it is connected to politics. National research reveals issues of public policy that could make a solid difference, including building women’s confidence in business growth through finance, women’s real and limited access to capital needed for growth, and for fairly earning government contracts.

Sustainable Energy—Ours

Other more private issues, such as finding affordable child or elder care, are affected by policy as well, and also strongly affect women’s economic decisions. Little hard data now exists to tell us the details, wherein we find the devil. Intuitively we can sense that as more of women’s time and energy goes to moneymaking in the public realm, her time and energy for civic work, often unpaid, or for entrepreneurial risk-taking is tapped out. Family work, foundational for maintaining human energy, cannot always be powered through; breakdowns and emergencies abound.

It is harder to think as an entrepreneur or a policy maker when pressed by sick children, aging parents and kids’ homework; or when the question of what’s for dinner is answered only by you. Even a partnered wattage at home can be lowered by conflicting demands, affecting entrepreneurs and public servants of both genders.

That “separate” realm of home and traditional wife-dom was always a lie, but we can see more clearly now its fossilized nature. Sustainable human energy must also become renewable and be included in future economic planning.

At the end of Change the Story’s presentation at the Statehouse, one business owner spoke from the floor. She reminded attendees of women’s continued struggle to balance their private lives with their public ones. She called for an informal poll of those present, asking: how many women business owners had had flexible schedules in mind as one reason for going into business? More than half of women present raised their hands.

Another woman entrepreneur asked about the revenue and rates of female ownership of childcare, notoriously expensive for families, despite low profit margins and low wages. Such detailed demographic gender profiles on businesses, across revenue thresholds and sectors, is not now available, came the answer. Change the Story’s report ends with a number of questions that underline Vermont’s need to look more closely at reasons for gender disparities in powering business revenue and the state’s economy.

At Emerge’s comedy event, a pediatric nurse and a 2016 graduate told us that she had loved the training; its network of women interested in public policy and democratic governance and mutual support had been “great,” she said. Other women there gave similar glowing reports, including from some who were now serving in the Statehouse.

Still, in a quiet moment in the stairwell, the civic-minded nurse admitted with a laugh that she’d been terribly busy, out several evenings in a row: “I’ll be glad when all the political meetings are over,” she confided. “Frankly I’m exhausted.”

Empowering Superwoman

Overbooking is a constant temptation for women today. Emerge director Ruth Hardy, mother of three, found our preferred face-to-face interview difficult, and settled for a phone call. We asked: Did Emerge provide childcare during its training sessions? Hardy answered that it was something Emerge has considered offering, but no, they did not at the present time.

Was Emerge supportive of policies to provide childcare at the statehouse and at town hall meetings to make wider participation easier? Hardy explained that their role was not to set policy, or to promote positions, but rather to teach Democratic and Progressive women how to get elected and become comfortable with public speaking and leadership. They entrust elected women with the job of defining and debating issues, while compromising and problem solving across party and county differences and a raft of competing issues.

Important women’s work will be cut out for all those elected come November, and the results, unknown at this writing, will affect governing and growth. In last month’s debate on women’s issues, Democratic candidate for governor Sue Minter critiqued the economic plan of Republican candidate Phil Scott, saying it omitted “women’s concerns.”

Scott disagreed, of course, and yet the Republican plan mentions women only twice, referring to Scott’s daughters, “beautiful and independent women!” and pregnant women with opiate addictions helped by a community-based program. Men are not mentioned—as if gender differences don’t exist.

Despite Republican national gains the past 25 years, numbers of Republican women in office have remained oddly static. Calls to their state headquarters on the question were not returned. “The party is aware of the need for more women to enter the legislative field and has often sought out women to run for office,” Vt. Rep. Linda Myers (R-Chittenden 8-1) assured us in a recent email. “The Vermont Republican town and state committees maintain an outreach to assist women who express an interest.” Yet pro-business Republicans in the state do not have a working organization like Emerge Vermont to elect more women.

Women’s legislative votes and business perspectives are needed to more sustainably power Vermont’s “unleashed potential” for economic growth.


No training program in your state yet? Check out the Dem’s national program here:

Women need to be asked to run, and it takes women longer to decide, says Emerge Vermont Director Ruth Hardy; they need time to feel confident and get their ducks in a row. Read more about why you should run at Hardy’s fact-filled article referenced above here:

Emerge Vermont’s Signature education program lasts six months, with tuition at $700; the new Vermont Local program meets over a weekend, tuition $385. For application information, to meet alumnae, and read about the training curriculum, options and scholarships, see their website:

Click on Vermont or any state on Representation 2020’s national map to see where women are elected, and where women remain untapped:

The Republicans have two programs, though neither seems well organized or current. Check out Right Women, Right Now! and the National Federation of Republican Women

Change the Story’s most recent report can be accessed at Women Business Owners Network:

You can access all reports on Vermont women’s economic status, whether wage-earners or business owners, at Change the Story at this link. Does YOUR state have such reports? They matter!





SC 1 Intro Book 300

Eros was Gaia's sexy counterpoint in the beginning, not baby Cupid. Gaia created the earth, said the Greeks.

Eros was Gaia’s sexy counterpoint in the beginning, not baby Cupid. Gaia created the earth, said the Greeks.

I’ll  be presenting my Eros theory of the economy at the Gross National Happiness Conference at UVM in Burlington, Vermont, on May 29 & 30. I’m one of many dozens of presenters, and it looks like two (or four) great days focused on creating a movement. Learn about economics for passionate people and the planet. And then visit the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, a short walk away.

My workshop aims to empower those intimidated by economics. I devised a basic primer during my work with adult students as a professor of liberal studies at Vermont College; while my training is in writing and literature, I was concerned about language that shapes our thinking about economics, while mystifying it.

Literature’s powerful stories are often entwined with changing perceptions of value and money. As a journalist I have frequently written about economic policies and the persistent poverty of women; I’ve published a novel, Second Sight that examines the uses of violence, including economic violence, to control us. Women in particular tend to be intimidated and avoid economics. Yet few of either gender relishes admitting to what isn’t understood in a climate of experts’ mystifying language.

Gross National Happiness as a counter to the Gross National Product had long been part of my presentations at colleges and conferences. I’m excited about Genuine Progress Indicators recently being added to Vermont’s measures of how we’re doing, and the development of public banking. There’s much to celebrate when you understand what’s at stake and how many are already proposing new paths to a happier future.

Using images,  I’ll show blind spots in male-dominated economic thinking, especially one big omission—biology—ours and the earth’s. I love to deconstruct economics, and have fun unlocking the subject through language and story.

For instance, the earliest creation story of the Greeks said the goddess Gaia created the earth and its life. And next came Eros whose ability to inspire passion and love assured life would continue.  The ecological Gaia theory is now widely recognized: we have “green economists.” But  I argue that Eros must not be forgotten as Gaia’s counterpart.

Eros is defined in the dictionary as sexual and creative drive, but also as “the sum of all instincts for self-preservation.” What might Eros mean to Gaia and our monetary economy? How might we reshape conversations about the economic realm? Is the economy really a war? Or, like our planet Gaia, a complex, self-regulating organism engaged in many sexy exchanges—our actual lives the real bottom line?

Check out the schedule for a two full days of learning–and have fun doing it. Come help build a movement, along with other terrifically happy and inventive, passionate people who care about our planet and all of its lifek–including yours! Here’s the link to what’s happening–register and please pass the news along.

Lately I’ve been ignoring the news, which has been way too full of reports about the “recovering” economy and Wall Street rebounding, while jobs continue to be lost. Here I was, hoping this economy might end up being murdered with an axe. But it appears an unrepentant U.S. capitalism remains here to stay, thanks to Bernanke, Geithner, and the same old privileged male players. So now I’m thinking, if you can’t beat’em, then maybe we’d best join them. America, we need to further commodify our children! This idea may be the secret to families at last gaining a little ground in a capitalist nation.

Our current economic system maintains an old 19th century myth. It continues to separate the private realm from the public realm, as if there should be a wall between them. What do I mean?  This economy faithfully separates our sacred families from the profanity of commerce, the better to avoid sullying the one thing remaining holy: our families and homes. (You know, the same American homes that were sold around the world in derivatives because our financial system was betting against them.)

Victorians of the 19th century held that men were a better fit for the profane and “public sphere” of politics and commerce. Only the fittest could survive there. Regardless of what Darwin had said about what the “fittest” actually meant, Victorian businessmen interpreted it as only “natural” to dominate by whatever ruthless measures were needed. Economic victories went to the strongest and the meanest.

Women, on the other hand, were the weaker sex and needed to be kept out of danger in the “domestic sphere.”  Too much thought in her pretty little head, and all her blood would go to her brain, instead of her womb, leading to hysteria. Doctors diagnosed any woman’s nervous condition the result of a starved uterus. Created by God to be mothers and home-makers, women might be oft-pregnant nurturers (birth control would land you in jail), yet she must remain morally impregnable. Far removed from the vile economy, women provided a safe haven for the harried worker whenever he came home. Here the children could receive proper moral guidance and social enrichment.

Thus the Victorian woman, though officially “dependent” and penniless, was persuaded, despite all appearances, that it was really her hand, not his, that rocked the world by rocking the cradle. And if you believe that, I have a big nuclear warhead I’d like to sell you—and by the way, honey, what’s for dinner?

Women’s liberation has meant so far that women have made some inroads into the male commercial sphere. Yet the domestic sphere of the USA remains stolidly separate from the commercial realm, operated by pure-hearted volunteerism. So today many middle-class homes sit largely unoccupied–except as a place to go after work or school to microwave and watch television.

Ever since the 1970s, Mom has been slaving away on the job market, same as hubby. Was it we feminists who accomplished this hideous undermining of American family life? Some claim so, but statistics clarify a larger reality. Most women went to work to keep the family nose above water. Katha Pollitt reports from A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything (the Shriver report from the Center for American Progress):

For the first time in our history, women are now 50% of the paid workforce…Four in ten moms are primary breadwinners… 80% of moms contribute a major chunk of family income.”

That’s because, since the 1970s, men and women workers as a whole have barely remained afloat in a leaky boat. Wages have not kept up with cost-of-living expenses and two workers and 80 hours of labor are now needed to cover a single mortgage payment. Elizabeth Warren reported this week in The Huffington Post what is now common knowledge. Yet what to do?  Since 1970, male wages have been static, and the working class has lost ground. About this, says Warren:

But core expenses kept going up. By the early 2000s, families were spending twice as much (adjusted for inflation) on mortgages than they did a generation ago — for a house that was, on average, only ten percent bigger and 25 years older. They also had to pay twice as much to hang on to their health insurance.

To cope, millions of families put a second parent into the workforce. But higher housing and medical costs combined with new expenses for child care, the costs of a second car to get to work and higher taxes combined to squeeze families even harder. Even with two incomes, they tightened their belts. Families today spend less than they did a generation ago on food, clothing, furniture, appliances, and other flexible purchases — but it hasn’t been enough to save them. Today’s families have spent all their income, have spent all their savings, and have gone into debt to pay for college, to cover serious medical problems, and just to stay afloat a little while longer.

Meanwhile, a sensible 32-hour work week standard, passed by the Senate in 1939 when unions had some say, died and was deeply buried, along with big unions. To many economists, including John Maynard Keynes, shorter work weeks had seemed a logical way to address technology’s elimination of man-hours needed to produce what we need. In fact, a glut of material goods on the market had helped deepen the Depression.

Instead, technology’s dividend went to the wealthy, not to the working class. Instead, workers traded in wages for consuming, sold on technology’s wonders at home (the before-mentioned television and microwave). With wages going lower and jobs going overseas, families had to find a third service job or get a college education or increase their work hours, and that still didn’t help with disappearing health insurance benefits. Sometimes people got sick, and in the USA, we like to pretend we never were children in need of care, and will never get old. The best-managed American health insurance celebrates its “low utilization rates.”

Health maintenance became increasingly unaffordable for the middle and working class, both in time and money. Exercise, physical labor and home-cooked meals get sacrificed to fast-food and big-box consuming. Long commutes to centralized shopping and work required maintaining not one car, but two.

The mythical wall between private and public has contributed to our families’ impoverishment in time, health and money. “Separate spheres,” maintaining that wall betwen public and private, was a sexist  idea that was never true and today seems only truly ridiculous. Radio and TV beam into our homes with commercial messages around the clock. Everyone is already twittering and blogging and being our friend on facebook, 24/7. If we ended the old prudish division between that old commercial sphere and the even older family sphere, women (and children) might at last become more visible players in the world economy.

So let’s face it like capitalists:  Without our economically impoverished private family sphere, none of the public economic sphere could happen. The hand that rocks the cradle does rock the world—it just doesn’t follow that such a high mission should never sully itself with financial reward. By that reasoning, doctors, nuclear physicists and CEOs should also eschew high salaries.

Therefore, I propose that when anyone comes of age to get a job—or signs up in the armed services to put their lives on the line for our economic freedom and more global consuming—the parents who invested their time and their money into that individual’s healthy and socialized upbringing should get a dividend. The worker should get wages for his or her time, yes, but the worker’s family ALSO should get a dividend as a return on their long-term investment in the economy.

I didn’t come up with this idea all on my own. Marilyn Waring first noticed the skewed accounting of nations as a minister of Parliament in New Zealand and wrote about time and money in If Women Counted.

An economics professor at Florida A&M University, Shirley Burggraf, proposed a social security dividend for parents. You can still get her book.

Other countries have a much more public discussion about public/private home issues. The Brits have openly exposed this false division between “spheres,? though I haven’t seen them connect it to 19th century dualism.  James Robertson says we need a “SHE” economy (A Sane & Healthy Economy) and All Work and No Pay; Women, Housework, and the Wages Due, edited by Wendy Edmond and Suzie Fleming, makes a similar case. Check out Nora Castaneda and the Women’s Development Bank of Venezuela, too.

Who would pay for this Family Investment dividend? All of us Americans should. We all benefit from every healthy worker’s contributions of time and attention to the economy. Family time invested in future workers could be figured as a percentage of the GDP. Likewise, that time’s returned dividend could be calculated as a 20-year bond investment in the future GDP. It goes like this: Whenever a family member raises kids to adulthood, they loan the country their time, money and hope in the future economy.

Whenever they loan time and comfort to retired or ill workers past their prime and on their way out, they’re also investing in the economy. In a capitalist country, hospitals and funerals contribute significant economic activity—and none of it would be possible without old, sick and dying workers.

Now, if your kid winds up in a crack house, naturally, the cost of curing him or sending him to prison would have to offset your parental dividend, but as soon as he was up and working on the job again, your dividend could come back, along with his wages. Your dividend could also be used to set aside against your future aging and eventual demise. Traditionally this has always been the arrangement between generations: you invest in me, your kid, and I’ll take care of you when you’re old. This was an economic activity long before there were dollars..

If your kid arrives on the job market with an MBA or a law degree, so much the better.  A bigger dividend should reflect your larger investment in the American economy’s future well-being. Women and/or men who decide to invest time in families and America’s little future workers might also get tax breaks, same as they do now—only more on the level that companies do who come into town and provide a community with jobs. Yes, that kind of tax-break: property tax relief, assistance with operative set-up, abeyance of municipal charges.

What are jobs anyway? Only places where a worker’s time is invested in making products—consumed and used by whom? More of us workers! The economy is one huge sphere of workers and worker production, not two separate walled-off ones—not two at all!

If our government “of the people” had a mind to do it, Americans collectively might even match the expected parental time and financial investment, while the kid is growing up. We do this to some extent now with property tax investments in our public schools. The U.S. is the only major industrialized country not to provide some public funds for maternity leave. Other countries even invest in public health care, public childcare or flexible hours for working parents.

Misnamed, “socialism,” these capitalist investment policies recognize the financial importance of healthy youngsters, who grow up into healthy workers and managers and entrepreneurs tomorrow. Taxes on corporations and the owners of production could help pay for our collective investments in family, since they’re the ones who will benefit most financially from utilizing tomorrow’s responsible and healthy employees.

But if this doesn’t appeal to you, then consider the Tobin Tax, an idea put forward by Nobel-prize winning Yale economist, James Tobin, in the 1970s. His idea was buried and discredited by “free-market” bullies. But as nation after nation went bust, the dangers of currency game-playing kept resurfacing. If global speculators, gaming national currency systems and markets like a  casino, endangered national livelihoods—why not discourage recklessness by taxing international transactions? Paul Krugman just reiterated the idea again in The New York Times (Nov. 27, 09).

According to South African economist, Margaret Legum, in her book, It Doesn’t have to be Like This, the Tobin tax would be impossible to evade and at a modest 0.25% would generate $250 billion on the now current $2 trillion in transactions. That’s $250 billion every year. That might fund our investing in our families—at least so long as we don’t allow yet another open-ended war to be declared. (War, it turns out, is profitable for everyone but the people involved.)

Yes, okay, the result of all this parental and shared community investment in our families would mean literally selling our kids’ into eventual wage-slavery. But we capitalists live with that reality already. Parents just don’t get a return on their investment. The Tobin tax could mean more public investment in this parental dividend; it could mean working class kids could get an education without putting their life on the line. Wars could not be waged without boys and girls desperate for money and meaning for their lives. Monetized caring could gain enough respect that more could decide to afford it more often.

Only because we’ve mentally kept the family sphere separate from the commercial sphere, do parents, especially moms,  get little but blame and expenses for their parental time, or for caring for their own parents when they’re past their prime. So tear down the last fragments of that old 19th century wall dividing private and public spheres! Freedom! More capitalism for all!

Not separate at all, two spheres separated by a man-made wall has always been a convenient lie. For the families who continue to make this economy work, it’s been an expensive lie. We live as wage-slaves on the job and come home to a second shift of unpaid slavery. And for what? Capitalism! Our families need more of it!

Thanks to my daughter, Kris, for this Mother’s Day article for investors in The Wall Street Journal. In it, columnist Jason Zweig advises men to share the reins to their investment portfolios with their wives. He opens with:

“Fess up, fellows: The masters of the universe have turned out to be masters of disaster. No matter which aspect of the financial crisis you consider, there is a man behind it.”

His article shows women investors tend to take fewer risks, trade less often and stick with their investments, leveraging less. He quotes psychologists who claim men are more likely to react to crises like our current one with anger, while women react with fear. That’s one way to put it, I guess.

I think it more likely women understand their investments are only part of the universe. They’re well aware of how little trust should be put in arrogant men more interested in using money for self-aggrandizing sport, than in an honest return for smart investments in a future worth living. Acting with caution should only be called sensible—exactly Zweig’s point.

newwayfoward-protest1This is one of the posters being distributed by A New Way Forward, an organization calling for a national day of protest against CEO and Bank Bailouts on April 11th. Their website will help you discover what is happening in your area. Go out into the streets with your pitchforks and rolling pins!

I chose this poster,  designed by Eva Chrysanthe, because it’s so rare to see a female figure in the Investment Banking Bailout scandal.  Her No and  Section 382 refers to a tax law that was illegally overthrown last year by then-Treasurer Paulson, in a memo providing a tax windfall for his banking buddies who were already getting $700 billion from TARP.

I love the poster’s aside, commenting on women’s disadvantage: “Paulson played Defensive Lineman at Dartmouth, 1967. You: Did not.” Women aren’t at the top of the insider-clubhouse of the nation’s nine biggest banks, or at AIG and their ranks  on Wall Street are shrinking.

It’s easy to decide the crisis has little to do with us. So why then do women always get the short end of the financial stick? (or is that dick?)

If women educated themselves about the Wall Street Meltdown and the finance culture of male one-up-manship, we might get the structural reform on Wall Street and in Washington we so badly need. Without women’s voices pressing for big change,  Obama won’t have what he needs to accomplish it.

A recent Bill Moyer interview, which I very much recommend,  presented a lawyer-banking regulator who worked on the Savings and Loan debacle back in the 80s, William K. Black. Black said the nation needs a high-profile Congressional Investigation, as happened after the Great Depression–ideally one headed by an elected woman, he added.

Another recent radio interview of the author of House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, William Cohan, asked this former Bears and Stearn investment banker, Did he think this would have happened if some intelligent women had been part of their management team? (I missed the male interviewer’s name, but loved his asking.)  Cohan laughed and houseofcardsanswered the culture was definitely one of Alpha males gone wild.

What if a million women asked the Fed and the Treasury and all their Wall Street game-playing line-men–what on earth were you thinking? Get real!

Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen a huge movement of women and mothers into the job market worldwide. Two wage-earners were always needed in American working-class families, but you’d expect our middle-class families to be more solid as a result of this new demographic shift. Instead we’ve seen an increase in bankruptcies; we’ve seen stagnant wages failing to keep up with rising costs. I hope you’re asking, why? (More on this later.)

In just about every economic category, women come up with the short end of the stick. Their reproductive and emotional work costs them in real time and expenses, as they rear the next generation’s workforce and maintain family and community connections foundational to a working economy. Yet this work continues to be unpaid at home or underpaid when out in the job market. The crucial work of childcare and homemaking and maintaining community doesn’t even register as “economic,” though clearly it is. We wouldn’t have an economy without it. It’s time to ask ourselves, what’s this economy for anyway?

This problem of invisible but essential work isn’t a “women’s issue.” It affects women and men and the families from which every human has benefited. We all need care at the beginning and end of our lives–and sometimes in between. This family care would be easier if the marketplace paid women fairly. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports that equal pay for the average woman would contribute $5710 to her household. Imagine. Over a 35-year working life, she would gain $210,000. Would this be a bad thing for your family?

By now you’ve probably heard about The Washington Post story on a University of Florida study that appears to demonstrate male chauvinists with traditional ideas about women get paid $8500 more a year than you wussy men with fair-minded views. But not so fast! Bonnie Erbe Scripps, with Howard News Service, makes this observation (among others):

“Allow me, dear reader, to step back for a moment and agree that perhaps one of the study’s conclusions is correct: Egalitarian men face pay discrimination in the same way women, whether traditional or not, apparently face it. But perhaps that can be explained away because egalitarian men, like many of their egalitarian female counterparts, don’t want to put in 80-hour weeks. Perhaps they, too, want time to fully participate in the rearing of their children? Heaven forfend: Could that explain the pay gap these authors claim to have found?”

I once complained to my husband, when I couldn’t find a pair of matched sox for work, “I need a wife!” He was very sympathetic, answering, “I know! I need one too!” We’re living in a wifeless world. Are you?