Fantasy State of the Union

My sister Americans:

The state of our union is strong.  Electing women to fully 51% of public offices has ushered in a new era in our great experiment in democracy.  Legislators now put the common good ahead of their personal power and individual gain.  We, men and women together, make better policy decisions and make them faster than in any prior administration.  As a result, the cost of government has decreased dramatically and we have more funds available to put to good use in making our country smarter, healthier, more competitive, and happier than ever before.

In the past year, the U.S. Congress has passed legislation to make all of our lives easier, more meaningful and more fulfilling.  First, every U.S. worker is guaranteed seven days per year of paid sick leave.  If you wake up with the flu, you can stay home and still pay the bills.  If your child comes home with strep throat, you can take her to the doctor and not risk your job.  You can count on getting your annual physical and lab tests, your dental checkups and your children’s vaccines without running the risk of losing your income, or putting off necessary medical care.

Second, paid family leave has become the law of the land.  Your members of Congress know that people are born, people die, people get sick and recover, or get injured and get well.  The people who show up every day in our factories and our offices are the self-same people who are having babies, adopting children, caring for their chronically ill parents, their injured spouses, or disabled family members.  We have created a caring economy.  We can attend to the business of America while giving those who need it the care they require because we know that, throughout our lives, there is a time to work, and a time to care, a time to be born, and a time to die.  One day we are the caregiver, the next day we are the family member who needs help.  By accepting this reality and crafting public laws in harmony with it, we share in both the effort and the benefit, in covering for the absent worker, rocking the new baby, or holding the hand of a dying loved one.  We can’t do it all alone.  But from now on, we can do it all together.  Every American will have access to six months of family leave, and receive two-thirds of their wages until they can return to work. 

If mothers or fathers wish to spend more time with a young child, they can count on earning Social Security credits for the period they spend with children younger than five for a maximum of six years across their lifetime. Until now, this critical period of personal investment eroded financial security after retirement.  Attributing half the median annual income to a stay-at-home parent will ensure that retirement benefits are not totally inadequate for those who contributed their care work rather than their compensated work to our collective well-being.  At long last, we have instilled family values into policies which actually value the family.  

As if that weren’t enough to induce whiplash across this great country of ours, starting now, employed women will make as much money as employed men. Gender will no longer be an excuse for income inequality.  Fair pay puts more money into the economy pushing up job growth, and effectively ending our recession.  Fairness increases opportunity for women and for everyone.  Also, banks and financial institutions, until now directed primarily by men, are prohibited from taking excessive risks with other people’s money.  Therefore, invested savings will no longer be the private casino of a few.  Thoughtful and prudent administration by the most talented men and women will finally end the seesaw effect of market volatility.  When you save for retirement or your child’s education, the money you are counting on will be there. 

Finally, workplace flexibility, alternative schedules and tele-work will become the rule rather than the exception.  All parents who wish may enroll their pre-school children into accessible, affordable, high-quality childcare, whether it’s for standard business hours, a few days a week, or during a night shift or weekend.  Families will have both the support and the freedom they need to devise a routine that works for them, and to modify it as children get older or circumstances change.   Parents can pursue professional goals while being the mothers and fathers they want to be.  You will always be able to find clean and private places to breastfeed a baby, and other clean and private places to change a diaper.    

And from this day forward, the number of women’s restrooms will be doubled in all public buildings, so that no woman ever, ever, has to stand in line again. 

Thank you, citizens, for electing men and women in equal measure with a passion for public service and long range vision.  Their commitment to our mutual well-being has made this possible.  We can look forward with confidence to generation upon generation of the greatest prosperity and the greatest opportunity possible. 

God bless you and God bless the United States of America.  Good night.

About Valerie Young

Valerie Young is a public policy analyst who focuses on the economic status of mothers and other family caregivers. She promotes social justice by arming mothers with information and a healthy dose of outrage. She is the Advocacy Coordinator at the National Association of Mothers' Centers, and is a reporter for The Shriver Report and contributor to Brain/Child Magazine. Follow her blog, Your (Wo)Man in Washington, on Twitter @WomanInDC and on Facebook as Valerie Young and Your (Wo)Man in Washington.

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  • Ginger Garner

    Oh Valerie – I love this post. We can have a dream…