Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Parent’s Eye View is Moving!

Hey everyone!

The traffic here at The Parent’s Eye View has really picked up lately.  I can’t tell you how much this means to me, to know that people actually listen and read what I have to say, and engage in the debate occurring online.

In an effort to consolidate the number of blogs I have on the web, I moved a copy of this blog, and all the posts, over to www.whitneyhoffman.com.

This new website will let you subscribe to the blog and search it easier, as well as give me a bit more flexibility in terms of changing and updating the site, as well as tracking the statistics.

I hope you’ll think about moving your bookmarks over to the posts at http://www.whitneyhoffman.com, and continue reading what I have to say.

To give you an idea of what I’ve been writing about over there, here are a few summaries of recent posts:
Strategy Versus Reality– all about how I I understand that elections need to take strategy into account, but I care more about being told the truth in the end.

In the Golden Age of Commerce…. Social and Financial Contracts-About how economic contracts between people work best when both parties have a social reason to do what they promised, as well as a financial interest to protect.
Economic Education- We can’t afford not to– This is about how every child should be taught how money works in school, and how I think we can’t afford not to make basic economics part of the curriculum.

Great Expectations- What Are Yours?-This post is about Philly’s Great Epectations project- a civic engagement project, looking to citizens to help brain storm solutions to some of the thorny problems facing any city today.

Trust and Transparency– a post not only about a book on Transparency coming out soon by my friends John Havens and Shel Holtz, but on how transparency may be the issue we learn the most about in the coming months after the recent collapse on Wall Street.

Are High Interest Rates Bad?-An argument that says high interest rates may actually be good and provide incentive for people to save and make different kinds of investments than the riskier ones found on Wall Street.

Relationships and Trust Agents-This post is about the book being written on Trust Agents by Julien Smith and Chris Brogan, and my fundamental belief that branding and customer service are the only factors left to differentiate products in the marketplace flooded with so many varieties of the same.

I hope you’ll take a look over there and check some of them out. I may continue to post here from time to time, but please expect the majority of content to be found on http://www.whitneyhoffman.com.

Thanks for reading!

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New Media and Politics

Today, my friend Beth Harte and I sat down with Stephanie Abrams from CBS3 here in Philadelphia, to talk a bit about the political climate and how blogs and new media were effecting the election.

Beth and I got to chat for a few minutes after as well.  While I support the Democrats and she the Republicans, I think we are both pretty middle of the road people, with very similar points of view on many issues, and I think this is where most people are- in the center of the bell shaped curve, perhaps falling a bit to the right or left, but not very extreme in any of their viewpoints.

For example, we both agree that the fun and snarky comments online can get pretty out of hand and nasty sometimes, and this does nothing to help either “sides” case- that their candidate is the best one for the job.  We can probably both agree that if you are extremely partisan, it’s easy to just read conservative or liberal blogs, and live in an echo chamber that just magnifies your already entrenched point of view.  What’s harder to do is find decent, reasoned voices and opinions, that take the time to talk about facts (as we know them) and build a reasonable and rational case for either party or candidate.

In recent posts, I’ve talked about how I am not a big fan of Sarah Palin- not because I am some June Cleaver throwback, but I do believe it’s perfectly okay to be a mom and a working person, but I also acknowledge that doing two things at once means often feeling pulled in two directions, and it’s not particularly fun.  I think women can have it all, but the caveat to that is we can’t necessarily have it all at the same time.  We like to pretend everything is rosy and perfect, but being a working Mom is often like having two full time jobs, and only one pays you money, while the other pays you in emotional currency.

But regardless of my position on issues, or Beth’s, we can both agree that having a good new media strategy is essential.  Candidates need to understand we are living in times where hiding the bad news only makes it worse, and being authentic and human is the only way to deal with a changing media landscape.  Those that fail to realize this are taking a very big risk indeed.

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Gender and Politics

One point I share with parents on all the time, (and I got this insight from the great Rick LaVoie), is to NEVER confuse Fair and Equal.  From Merriam Webster:

Equal: 1 a (1): of the same measure, quantity, amount, or number as another

Fair has many more defintions, but the important ones here are:

Fair: 5: ample <a fair estate

6 a: marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism <a very fair person to do business with> b (1): conforming with the established rules : allowed (2): consonant with merit or importance : due <a fair share>

Simply put, Equal means everyone gets the same, and Fair means everyone should get what the need or deserve.  Things canbe both fair and equal, but frequently they can be either/or, not both, simultaneously.

When we talk about things like gender, we are talking about something that naturally divides people into two categories.  It’s something we can’t do anything about.  Is that fair? Yup.  Is it equal?  No.

Women always have a different part to play in life, because they are capable and frequently do have children.  We can’t outrun or circumvent biology.  As a result, women have certain issues men will never have- Do I get adequate pregnancy leave at work?  If I want to nurse my baby, how do I do that and meet all the requirements they have for me at work?  If I have an unplanned pregnancy, what decision will I make?  All of these decisions are inherent to being a woman.  It doesn’t mean men can’t have feelings or opinions about them, but in the end, the person who is carrying the child has to take responsibility for it.

Notice how we always know who the mother of a baby is, but the paternity can be called into question. It goes like this- one person comes into the hospital, two people come out.  We know for sure who the mother is.  Basic biology.   This is another issue, unique to women.  There aren’t a whole lot of Maternity Suits out there, searching for the unknown mother of a child, to hold them fiscally liable for the child’s expenses.  That would be silly, and unnecessary, since we “register” each new baby by issuing a State birth certificate and now even a social security number, before the baby leaves the hospital.  Except in rare cases of home births and child abandonment, we always know who the Mom is.

So How Does This Gender Difference Affect Politics? Should it?

When women have struggled for equal pay for doing the same job, that is an argument that is about both Fair and Equal.  If both people have the same experience -exactly-, the same education, and the same job, and are performing it equally well, they should be paid the same wage.   Fair and Equal.  If the woman is out of the office more because she has a baby,  her kids are sick, or she is caring for elderly parents, or whatever reason- should this be reflected in her job?  Her job review?

Many working moms watch their sick days and vacation days like a hawk, because they know, sometime during the year, a kid is going to get sick- hopefully not with anything that is like chicken pox, requiring a week or so out of school and thus out of work as well-and if they exceed the maximum number of days they can use, they risk being fired.  Taking a day off to attend a school play or teacher’s meeting?  Great- but you pay for that down the line without a vacation day left for when the child gets sick, you get sick yourself, or you actually want to get away and have a vacation.

Sure, working dads have the same issues.  But in most families, the reality is that when a child is sick or there is an issue at school, 90% of the time it’s the mom who goes in and takes care of the problem.  That may not be equal, and it may not be fair, but it is reality.

Even my husband, a physician, has avoided taking off more than a few hours when we’ve needed him at school meetings, or I have been out of town on business.  It doesn’t ever occur to him to take a sick day or a vacation day-in fact, he’ll sooner have a relative come and help with the kids if I am out of town for an extended period than take a week off of work and use vacation time for child care duties.  And I am perfectly okay with that, and don’t feel it’s a sexist issue at all- I look at it as triaging the situation, and know his patients need him, and this is a high enough need that taking a day off  “because he feels like it” is not part of his nature.    Patients come first.   I get that, and that is part of our family contract, so to speak.  (And I hope all of you out there appreciate that too- you do, and should, come first to your health care provider, often before his own family.)

I doubt this is unusual in most families, even those without wage earners with “important” life or death kind of jobs.  We can argue fairness, equality, and sexism, but reality is  this is the way the world works, liberal or conservative.  Women have a larger share of child care issues, in part because she is the mom, period.  Dads participate and it’s wonderful, but few dads are the sole and primary caretakers of their kids.  Reality, not sexism.

And this means, as a result of my gender, as a result of being a Mom, I see what happens at our local schools more than my husband.  I know the Teachers and Administrators.  I know my child’s physicians. I also know the other parents, my kid’s friends and their parents, and I am the social hub of the family as a result.  Education is a big political issue, and while we all want a good education for our kids, I would imagine most Moms have a better sense of what is happening in the school than Dads, at least 8 out of every 10 times.

There are very few dads on most PTA and PTO committees.  Dads may sit on the school board, but few are out there baking cookies for bake sales and setting up the book fair, independently of their spouse.  Just the facts- gender plays a role, but it doesn’t make it a sex discrimination or sexist issue.

Gender in the Election

When I hear people complaining that Sarah Palin is being treated differently than a man, I answer- “You Bet!  Because she is a woman!  And that is perfectly normal and ok!”

Being a woman doesn’t make Palin any less of a politician, nor does it make her a better one, either.  It doesn’t make her more or less competent as an executive or administrator.  And her husband could be an example for men all over the Country, on how to have a spouse in national politics, and be a role model for stay at home dads.  That’s fantastic and I applaud this.

But I think we do ourselves a disservice if we say we need to factor out gender from politics; that “we would never say that or ask that question if she were a man”.  If women want to play on an even playing field, then they need to compete on the same playing field as men and be okay with it.  They have to be comfortable with their gender and all the questions- good, bad, indifferent, and even the nasty questions that might be asked.  If male politicians can be hounded and examined for every woman they have ever taken out for dinner, women politicians should undego the same scrutiny and be asked if they ever use their gender for their advantage.

Gender does matter, and I think it’s silly to think it isn’t a factor in the election or in politics.  Of course it is.  Some day, maybe it truly won’t matter.  But it does now.  And we shouldl feel very free to discuss it, without apologizing for doing so.

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