The National Women’s Coalition, a group of some 70 business and professional women, has been assembled by the Republican National Committee to persuade women voters that Reagonomics is good for them. According to Susan Fisher, a senior vice president of the Marine Midland Bank, (who claims she disagrees with Reagan’s stand on the equal rights amendment and abortion):
“Sure they’re important issues. But there’s no more important issue than the economy.”
And from Mary Singletary, who is, surprisingly, executive director of Planned Parenthood in Essex County, NJ:
“There are good points [in the Reagan administration] – inflation, interest rates, housing starts. Housing is fundamental, money is fundamental, and people are reaping the benefits.”
We ask: “What people?” Certainly people like the women in the Coalition: upper-middle class business executives, lawyers, a sprinkling of higher echelon university women – in other words, women who have “made it.” None is a low-income woman with a family to support; an elderly woman eking out her meager existence from day to day; a woman on welfare with neither education nor job training, living with her family in unspeakable conditions because they have nowhere else to go; or the woman on a fixed income, fearful of losing her rentcontrolled apartment because she’ll be out on the street. What is the economy doing for them? Where are their benefits?
Perhaps the Coalition women should read “Inequality of Sacrifice.’ a 100-page report produced by 78 private organizations, which proves that since Reagan took office, the poverty level in this country has increased by almost 30 percent; that families with incomes from $50,000 to $250,000 have seen a 1.2 percent to 7.4 percent increase in their after-tax incomes, while families with less than $15,000 pay higher taxes than before; and that if taxes had been cut 10 percent less, no cuts would have been necessary in programs benefitting lowincome people.
If the Coalition women are too busy to read the report, (after all. they are high-powered executives who. according to one of them, “are very busy … and have very demanding careers”), they might have the time to read a short news story that was published in the New York Times the same week they published a piece on the Coalition’s New York debut for press interviews:
After she was evicted from her apartment, Fayette Mount, on welfare and unable to find a job, rented part of a trailer from Aubrey Ambrose. Ambrose tried to rape her and, in self-defense, she fatally stabbed him.
Attorneys agreed that Ms. Mount had a good chance of acquittal if she went to trial. Instead, the unemployed mother of two pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. She chose to go to prison because she wanted shelter and job training!
According to her attorney, “She knew it was the fact she was on welfare and without a job that got her into the situation in the first place … if she pleads, she gets a place to live and some job training.”
Yes, “housing is fundamental, money is fundamental” – for some people, it’s just a little more basic than for others!
The following national statistics have been excerpted from Feminization of Poverty, a series of hearings held in New York in June. 1984 by Gail S. Shaffer, Secretary of State, NYS and Ronnie Eldridge. Director. NYS Women’s Division:
• 90% of people dependent on AFDC are women and children – Median annual income from Social Security is: $5,479 for men $2,813 for women
• About 61% of all single elderly women depend solely on Social Security. Elderly widows averaged Social Security payments of $379 per month in 1982. Women divorced after ten years averaged Social Security payments of $177 per month in 1980
• 50% of all families below poverty threshold are headed by women
• 36% of all female-headed families with no husband present are living below poverty threshold
• Between 70% and 80% of families headed by minority women are living in poverty
• Over nine million families were headed by females in 1982 and nearly four million of these were living in poverty
• 40% of all women over age 65 are poor