Is this how we want to honor our mothers?

By MARSHALL WARD

President, Calloway County Retired Teachers Association

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Anna Jarvis Mother’s Day bill as a National Holiday to honor “the best mother who ever lived, YOURS” (my emphasis).

We have undertaken national and state policies to cut funds for women, mothers, and our families to somehow “fix” the budgets that are now being exacerbated by huge tax cuts for the wealthy.

By slashing nutrition assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and cutting access to health care for many low-income families and safety net programs like Medicaid and now Medicare, the Republican Party seems to have an all-out “war” on poor women, their families, and the elderly.

For example, here in the First Congressional District, represented by James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), 39,794 households or 14.3 percent receive SNAP, and of those, 59.1 percent fall below the poverty level. About 86 percent are white, 13 percent are African American, and about 1 percent are Hispanic. Mr. Comer has supported the reduction in funding for SNAP which will negatively impact multitudes in western Kentucky plus will have a negative multiplier effect on our local economies. Interestingly, the same scenario was discussed when teacher’s pensions were on the chopping block. It is no coincidence that the teaching profession is dominated by women.

Instead of these cuts, the Democratic Party has suggested that raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would lift thousands in the commonwealth (about 1/3 of working mothers) out of poverty. From Paducah to Pikeville, it takes about $25,000 per year for a single person to make ends meet. Minimum wage at $7.25 only produces about $15,000 per year. (kypolicy.org)

And by the way, that $15 mark is very low. If our standard for minimum wages had kept pace with overall income growth in the American economy, it would now be $21 per hour.

Mother’s Day should be an opportunity to acknowledge the time, love, nurturing, and maintenance, while in many cases working a full-time job, to make our families run. The message that is being sent by those in power is undercutting that principle. There should also be equity in pay and benefits for all those hard-working women.

All advanced economies seem to realize the critical role that the government plays in medical coverage, nutritional support, safe housing, and secure earnings for women.

According to a recent 2018 study, Kentucky had an overall ranking of 34 in “Best States for Women." In the categories of “Economic & Social Well Being,” Kentucky ranked 24th and “Women’s Health and Safety” ranked 41st. Also, Kentucky women ranked 48th of 50 states in highest percentage of women in poverty.

When the study compared Red (Republican) states and Blue (Democratic) states, Blue states had an average rank of 15th and Red states ranked on average 33rd.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vermont) has proffered an interesting idea of “jobs guarantee plan” along with $15 per hour and health benefits. Republicans have been saying for years that everyone should work to receive federal/state benefits. This may be a plan that both sides of the aisle could embrace.

In closing, Let’s honor our mothers by understanding the tremendous commitment of pregnancy, birthing, nurturing, parenting, caregiving, educating, and guiding by treating them with respect, economic equity, and unconditional love.

Every day should be Mother’s Day!