'Pst...Can We Talk?'
It's time this country's women have an honest conversation: a girl-to-girl, woman-to-woman, one-to-one chat like we had with our mothers when we "came of age." We need a straightforward, no-holds-barred adult discussion about economics, politics, and our future as the mothers of this country.
This country's economy has been in a bad place for well over a decade. But that is no excuse to make it worse, as women, who are excellent at prioritizing and budgeting, well know. When women face an empty bank account, we address our urgent poverty with sound economic decisions: we stop spending, we prioritize needs, and we work more hours or at times get a second job.
Every woman managing her personal, family, or company's budget knows we can't spend more than we take home, and our country must operate by the same economic principles.
We didn't stand up and dismantle that glass ceiling by putting our hand out. We raised our hands to the occasion and performed often better than our male counterparts, and we earned every rung of the ladder we climbed. As my father told me at the age of five, "you will always have to be better to be considered equal."
So be it. As a Jewish student in a small rural school, I challenged the zero I was given when I missed class on the Jewish holidays. As a female medical student at New York University Medical School, I had to take a special test to earn my A in surgery because "the girls got Bs while the boys got As," or so I was told.
Just as every male head of house, women know what we need to turn this country around. We have to build it -- no excuses, and no handouts.
We need to recognize the economic realities we face. The baby-boomers are starting to retire from the workforce, adding 30 million to the current 50 million seniors who are receiving entitlements. There are far fewer graduates entering the job market, making it very difficult to expand our economy unless companies beyond our borders find new and emerging markets here in the United States.
We must reform the entitlement expectations of our aging parents. Many Americans approaching 65 are going to have to remain in the workforce longer than they expected. Daughters and sons cannot afford to take care of their parents and their children over the entire 40-plus years of productive life. It's simple math: if I earn a 40-year income from 25 to 65 years, it's pretty hard to invest in my business, maintain my household, raise my children, save for personal retirement, and take care of my elderly parents for 30 or so years -- and have time to sleep!
Our leaders in Congress must face the new reality and develop a new budget that includes seniors as part of the workforce, thereby contributing additional revenue. America must invest in educating our children and prepare them for the technocratic business environment they will have to conquer to be successful.
For those of us who remember I Love Lucy on television or watch reruns, this is no longer Lucille Ball's wacky world of wonder. No more moving chocolates down the assembly line. Our graduates must be able to design, build, operate, and fix the assembly line.
As mentioned, women are excellent at prioritizing and budgeting. Reducing our opportunity for choice to our reproductive organs is demeaning and rude. We can find our way to the grocery store and wash our own clothes without having to ask for detergent, and we can certainly take care of our own birth control. Why would anyone think we can't buy our own birth control for $9.00 per month?
The idea that political pundits have reduced womanhood to pink brochures and ribbons is wrong and shortsighted. Next time around may be the time we will be given the opportunity to lead the nation from the podium.
But for now, let's give this nation a lesson that we all learned in the privacy of our own homes and in our schools. If we want to get ahead, we must find solutions; we must not whine. If we want to lead, we must take the shovel. If we want to win, we must focus and prioritize. And our first priority is to vote for opportunity rather than accept the status quo and any gratuitous political banality from a self-proclaimed pundit.
Marcy Zwelling-Aamot is a California doctor and a past president of the American Academy of Private Physicians.