Over at Al Jazeera America I explain how the Clintons got so wealthy. Hint: it has to do with political kickbacks.
Today I started Hillary Watch, a sister tumblr to track Hillary Clinton’s mistakes, gaffes, and mistruths during the Forever Campaign.
Something that plagues American campaign coverage is how superficial it is — there’s a lot of discussion of people’s personalities, polls, fundraisers, and other things that really shouldn’t matter in terms of informing the public, but get a lot of coverage, anyway.
The point of Hillary Watch is to look at the facts of what Hillary is doing and saying, and to ask voters to critically examine her and consider their options in 2016. If the rest of the media won’t hold her accountable, then hopefully this Tumblr can step up to the plate. Please bookmark it and check it periodically.
There is much fanfare among Republican circles about a new Select Committee in Congress to investigate Benghazi. The logic goes that four Americans died, the administration obfuscated the reasons behind why, and there needs to be an investigation.
Whether or not you believe that is true, the level of fixation over this foreign policy event strikes me as disproportionate and odd. Right-wing radio, Fox News, and Republican Members of Congress have waved the banner over this incident for years, but have ignored a much larger foreign policy scandal: the war in Afghanistan.
The war in Afghanistan is the longest war America has ever been engaged in — longer than the Second World War, and longer than the Vietnam War.
Unlike the MoveOn-inspired movement to keep track of the Iraq war body count (at least the American casualties, the Iraqi casualties were in such large number that they’d be hard to record, sadly), there has been no similar effort for Afghanistan. If you were to poll Americans about the death count, I doubt even the most politically active people would be able to recall it from the top of their heads.
However, the icasualties.org have diligently recorded military deaths in both Afghanistan and Iraq. As of today, 2,319 American soldiers have died in the Afghan war. 1,689 of those Americans died from 2009 onwards — on Obama’s watch. That means 73% of the total war deaths among Americans are under the Obama administration.
Notice here that I’m not counting Afghans. The reason why is simple — it’s too difficult. I don’t have a quantitative estimate of how many people died in night raids like the ones chronicled in Dirty Wars or how many poppy farmers were in the wrong time and wrong place when a daisy cutter fell. I only have a qualitative estimate: too many.
1,689 Americans dead is a tremendous scandal — it’s 422 Benghazis. What were the deaths for? Why did the U.S. continue to stay in Afghanistan — what did it hope to achieve, for itself, for Afghans? Those are all questions I would hope Congress would investigate. They could subpoena documents related to the decision-making process for escalation, and also demand to know why the Pentagon and White House are pushing the Afghan government to continue to allow U.S. troops in that country for years to come.
I don’t expect the House Republicans to do this, because most of them supported Obama’s escalation (with some important exceptions, like Rep. Walter Jones [R-NC], who beat back a Wall Street and Israel Lobby-funded primary challenge this week). But it’s a darn shame, and one that’s bipartisan.
If I have a blind spot as a writer and activist, it has been women’s rights — other than some writing I did on a really insane Georgia law that would’ve forced women who had a miscarriage to register with the government to verify it wasn’t an abortion, I don’t spend much time writing on these issues. Part of this is that I’m human, and I don’t want to delve into things where I don’t have much expertise.
To rectify this, this semester in graduate school I’m taking a class on girls’ education in the developing world, where I’m learning about the challenges the world faces in educating the 31 million girls that currently aren’t in school for a variety of reasons — mostly economic, but also various social, cultural, and religious ones.
The class is taught by Catherine Bertini, the former head of the UN’s World Food Program and who worked for the Gates Foundation on issues related to empowering women.
It’s been a really informative experience for me because I’ve learned about the myriad of ways women’s activists approach the barriers to educating girls and how educating young women can really change a society for the better — leading to outcomes such as delaying the age of marriage, increasing economic growth and equity, and boosting the number of women in parliaments and executives.
That brings me to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Shortly after she was disinvited from receiving an honorary degree at Brandeis University due to her hateful remarks on Muslims, there was outrage from mostly right-wing quarters but also some others who claimed this was an attack on her freedom of speech and a blow against women’s activism.
Several smart folks including my friend Ali Gharib have written about why this wasn’t an attack on freedom of speech, but that’s not my topic here.
One of the most important lessons stressed in my class is that you can’t do women’s activism in any country by being outright hostile to the people of that country. You have to be sensitive to their religion, culture, and history, and be willing to work within their social and political contexts towards real change. One gentleman who guest lectured in our class worked in Afghanistan for the UN in the 1970’s. Although this was pre-Taliban, there was still a lot of resistance to educating girls, and almost all of his staff were Afghans. By respecting their culture — and also by implementing a food rationing program to incentivize Afghans to send girls to school who they believed would generate more for their families simply by working at home — he was able to get a lot of girls in school. Never did he insult Islam, or Muslims, or Afghans. He worked slowly to bring them to the realization that educating their young women would benefit them. It was hard, painful work, and his house was bombed twice by the Soviets before he finally left the country. But I’m sure the girls he put through school thought he was a miracle worker.
The sort of strident, intolerant rhetoric that Ali specializes in — such as calling Islam a “cult of death” — would never be used by USAID, UNICEF, the Malala Fund, or other organizations that work to educate girls. Anyone who even tried to talk like that would probably be fired on the spot, or never hired to begin with.
Yet conservatives have continued to complain that Ali was shunned because she was a feminist trying to speak up against Islam’s oppression of women. After all, she runs a foundation (called the AHA Foundation, apparently named after herself) that ostensibly works to advance women’s rights.
The problem is, her foundation seems to be contradictory with regards to that goal. Although it aims at issues that are important to address — female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honor violence — it is unclear how its activities are actually decreasing incidences of these events. It, for example, asks campus activists to host book clubs featuring, yes, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s own two books. They screened the film Honor Diaries — which is produced by non-Muslims, and financed and spread by leading Islamophobic groups — to Arizona homicide inspectors. It also has lobbied for state-level laws to address female genital mutilation and honor violence, although it is unclear how effective these laws are and if there was any input given whatsoever from the communities they are de facto investigating — Muslims and South Asians.
What I haven’t found any evidence of is real engagement with Muslim American organizations or even broader womens rights and human rights organizations. By ignoring this engagement, the AHA Foundation seems to be violating one of the cardinal rules of human rights and development work I explained above — talk *with* the people you are trying to impact, not *at* them.
This is especially curious as in their promotional materials on their website they have images of young Muslim women, and Africans, Arabs, and South Asians.
The most recent IRS 990 filings for the organization were not available online, as far as I could see, but I looked up the 2011 filing and from that I was able to see the organization’s board, directors, and president.
I was surprised to learn that Christina Hoff Summers — who like Ali has a position at AEI — is one of the directors. Summers, an ex-philosophy professor, is most famous for her work claiming there is a war, not against women, but against boys (the title of that 2001 book by her is literally The War Against Boys). Most recently, she was arguing, without any statistical data, that there is no pay gap between men and women. In a world full of women’s activists, Ali seems to have found one who is actually anti-feminist in her political orientation.
The other board members, also all non-Muslims, seem just as curious. For example, there’s Buntzie Churchill, an orientalist who was the author of The Roots Of Muslim Rage and, I’m not making this up, at one point Bernard Lewis’s girlfriend.
By now it surely seems that the AHA Foundation has violated every rule of engagement on the issue of women’s rights. Ayaan Hirsi Ali seems to have recruited people who are not only as anti-Muslim as her, but some of whom even actively deny abuses against women in the United States, like unequal pay.
I know there are a number of folks who have been drawn to Ali in recent weeks because they legitimately care about women’s rights and want to help advance them here in the United States and abroad. Here are some great organizations doing that sort of work and who are not staffed solely by anti-Muslim and anti-feminist ideologues. They could use your support:
I love America. I legitimately think it’s the freest country on earth, where you can do pretty much whatever you want. And one of the things that makes it that way is that it’s accepting of pretty much everyone: all races, faiths, cultures, and creeds.
Having traveled abroad and seen how sectarian much of the rest of the world is — Hindu-Muslim rivalry is particularly jarring for me, I remember going to an Olympics Field Hockey game where the other side chanted “Kill The Pakis” (or that’s someone else’s recollection, I was tiny and mostly wanted to do the Macarena during half-time) — I really appreciate being here and not in Kashmir or Jerusalem or even Paris, places where your tribe can be used to define you, and your individual identity and character is replaced with ancient disputes.
But just because it’s the least racist place in the world doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
A few days ago my friends Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal wrote a piece digging into the backstory of the resignation of RT anchor Liz Wahl, laying out some pretty compelling evidence that she coordinated her actions with the neoconservative political group the Foreign Policy Initiative and various associated hawkish foreign policy writers such as Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray and The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake.
Later, Gray, who has made a name for herself with right-wing reporting on foreign policy issues and a really sloppy hit piece on a nonviolent Palestinian activist and his son (real power players they take on at Buzzfeed these days), tweeted the following picture in response to criticisms, with the phrase “sorry not sorry”:
In the picture you’ll see Wahl on the right, next to Gray, who is sitting next to Lake, who is sitting next to Jamie Kirchick (the one flashing the peace/victory sign).
There’s something to be said about all of these individuals, but I want to focus on Lake here for a second. Although he’s a bit older than much of the rising hawk generation — he worked for The New York Sun and United Press International and was born in 1972 — he really became influential by doing the same things a lot of now-influential foreign policy writers did: bashing the left and engaging in shoddy reporting about Iraq. His more recent work involves trying to smear Iranian American activists as agents of the Iranian government.
But while he was rising to prominence arguing for various amounts of violence against various Muslim countries, he was also making friends.
When progressive writer J.A. Myerson got into a Twitter dispute with Lake, the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman — who also rose to fame supporting the Iraq war, but who to his credit apologized and more recently traffics in progressive circles — came to his aid, mocking Myerson’s objections as a progressive Jew to Lake’s frequent and careless accusations of anti-semitism (I often engage in similar Twitter arguments with right-wing Muslims who instantly label me as self-loathing or anti-Muslim for, say, criticizing the Taliban or Saudi or Bahrain). Ackerman’s only complain about Lake was that he missed a round of drinks with him.
Ackerman isn’t Lake’s only friend. Blumenthal Tweeted a link to a Google search of “My friend Eli Lake,” which nets 6,500 results. Many of them are from Ackerman, others are from Matt Duss, a foreign policy writer I used to work with, others are from Heather Hulrburt, an influential foreign policy advocate in Washington among the Democrats. Go through the links yourself. Lake has a lot of friends.
Let’s return to the picture. Lake, who has earned so many friends across the political spectrum in Washington, who are happy to leap to his defense in online disputes and hang out with him outside of work hours, is wearing a shirt with a figure unfamiliar to a lot of Americans.
The man on Lake’s shirt is Menachem Begin. Begin is perhaps best known as his tenure as a former Israeli Prime Minister — in fact the one Jimmy Carter famously persuaded to sign a historic peace agreement with Egypt.
But Begin made his name long before becoming Prime Minister of Israel. In the days before the creation of that state, he was part of a terrorist army called the Irgun. The Irgun’s goal was to drive out the then-British occupiers to make way for the modern state of Israel.
Israeli writer Yossi Sarid goes through some of the Irgun’s terrorist acts, the most famous being the bombing of the King David Hotel, which killed 91 people, but also included bombing marketplaces and other acts that we’d associate with what Al Qaeda and the Taliban are doing in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan today. Begin was so proud of his terrorist violence that he even later wrote a book about it called The Revolt: Story Of The Irgun.
The activities of Begin worried many other parts of the Jewish diaspora, like Albert Einstein. In 1948, Einstein and Hannah Arendt, among others, wrote a letter to The New York Times condemning Begin’s violence and decrying his movement as “fascist.”
After the foundation of the state of Israel, Begin rose through the political ranks of the right-wing Likud party until he became Prime Minister in the late 70’s. He was an ardent opponent of a Palestinian state or even recognizing that the millions of stateless Palestinians even had human rights. As the New York Times noted, to Begin “West Bank was Judea and Samaria, Jewish land from biblical times.” The day after the 1977 elections where his party gained overwhelming power, he visited an Israeli settlement of Elon Morehs — which for those who don’t follow these issues, is essentially a Jews-only colony built in Palestinian territory — and declared, “We stand on the land of liberated Israel. There will be many Elon Morehs. There will be many, many settlements in the coming weeks.”
When you don’t recognize that the Palestinians even exist or refuse to deal with them and their human rights, the only thing to do is fight. Begin invaded Lebanon, seeking to crush the Palestine Liberation Organization (an action which ironically gave birth to Hezballah, which is more powerful than the PLO ever was). The brutality of the war was so shocking that an unlikely figure — U.S. President Ronald Reagan, no dove — at one point called Begin directly and condemned him. As he wrote in his diaries later, “I told him it had to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered. I used the word holocaust deliberately & said the symbol of war was becoming a picture of a 7-month-old baby with its arms blown off.”
Unlike the thousands of people he killed as a terrorist leader and later as the Israeli Prime Minister who laid waste to Lebanon and entrenched settlements that would serve to wipe out the possibility of a future Palestinian state, Begin died quietly of heart troubles in a hospital in Tel Aviv in 1992.
Now that I’ve told the story of Begin, let’s do a thought experiment. What if, instead of Begin, Lake wore a t-shirt with Hamas leader Khaled Meeshal’s face on it? What if Lake were a Muslim American who spent his career advocating violence against Israel? Is there any doubt he wouldn’t be a celebrated and well-connected writer praised by figures in both Democratic and Republican Washington?
Lake, Goldberg, and “Axis of Evil" Bush speechwriter David Frum, who was just hired to The Atlantic, continue to grow influential despite their role in the Iraq war and despite their long advocacy for violence against various Muslim countries.
There is little sanction for people who built their careers on advocating violence that has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, or keeping millions of Palestinians subjugated, or, what I’m sure really excites them, a possible war with Iran.
I know that as a young Pakistani Muslim writer I have to watch everything I say or write lest I be construed as being anti-American, anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic. Yet I never advocate for any violence against either place; these hawkish writers cheered on Operation Cast Lead. I would never wear a t-shirt of a terrorist. The same standards are not applied for people like Lake, because Muslim life is cheap. That’s at least what Marty Peretz, the former owner of The New Republic, who Jamie Kirchick came to influence under, believed strongly enough to say out loud.
But I continue to believe America is a great place. It welcomed my family here, and millions of other Muslims and Arabs. One day, our lives will have a price, and those who advocate for taking them or praise those who take them will see their reputations plunge, their careers fail to prosper. Because America always gets it right in the end.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is in the political fight of his life, as he faces a capable Democratic challenger in Allison Grimes and a primary opponent in Matt Bevin.
In defending his incumbency, McConnell has gone outright elitist, telling the media that the establishment is going to “crush” tea party challengers across the country.
McConnell’s victory or loss, particularly in the general election where he is polling very tightly with Grimes, will likely depend on voter turnout. Historically, midterm elections have lower turnout, and higher turnout tends to benefit anti-incumbent waves and more progressive candidates — both of which is very bad for McConnell.
In the past few years, the proliferation of voter ID laws has threatened to drive down turnout due to disenfranchisement of racial minorities, students, the elderly, poor voters, and others who cannot easily obtain these IDs. Proponents of these laws have denied that this is the purpose of their purpose, and claim they have nothing against higher turnout.
In 1991, McConnell was much more open about his views about how many people actually vote in elections. During the Republican National Committee’s annual meeting that year, he explained his thinking:
MCCONNELL: You’ve read these periodic diatribes by various assorted columnists talking about voter turnout. I know this is heresy. Some of you may not agree with it. But I’m not particularly disturbed by lower turnout. I’d like it if everybody voted. On the other hand, I think it is rather healthy that to a large number of Americans, politics is not the central motivating factor in their lives. In their view they’ve got something more important to do. And they’re out there doing it. And to conclude that the nation is somehow going to hell in a handbasket because the turnout is 51 percent versus 52 percent, to me, is absurd. I’d rather have the people who care decide who wins. And I would also remind you that high voter turnouts typically occur in countries where democracy is new. Boris Yeltsin was in town last week and told us they had a 74% turnout. That’s good they haven’t had an election in a thousand years. No wonder, it was a novelty! Those who are ringing their hands with alarm always point to Central American countries on the turnout. You might be interested to know in most Central American countries you’re required to vote and you get fined if you don’t. It has a remarkable impact on turnout. In this country you’re free not to vote if you don’t want to. And to conclude that something is inherently wrong with America because to a great number of Americans politics is not their central preoccupation to me is an absurd conclusion. Most of those Americans out there are out making something happen and hoping that government will simply leave them alone.
There’s a lot to talk about here. First of all, it’s not actually true that turnout is high only in places where democracy is new. EU countries which have been democratic for decades happen to have some of the highest turnout rates.
Secondly, McConnell framed this issue to try to get conservative voters on his side by saying that if less people vote, it’s great because it’s some sort of desire for smaller government. But that doesn’t make any sense. If only five people voted, those five people could still be for turning the U.S. into the Soviet Union. Voting is a big part of making sure the government does what you want it to — whether you happen to be conservative, progressive, centrist, whatever. And it’s not necessarily a great sign to see less people involved in the process, or giving up on the process altogether because they think voting doesn’t make any difference. It’s a sign they think they government is actually out of control — their control.
Lastly, what he said reminds me a lot of what Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says in the film American Blackout, which is a documentary about voter suppression in the early 2000’s. Here’s how he explains the thinking of elite politicians like McConnell:
SANDERS: The truth of the matter is that the media, large corporations, the people who control politically our country today do not want you to participate. They want a low turnout of primarily upper middle class people, they want big money to dominate the political process. Their nightmare is that young people, lower income people, working people jump into the process. They do not want that.
Also included in the video above are comments from McConnell dismissing public financing as some sort of conspiratorial plot by Democrats. Then he veers into implying that Republicans are completely transparent in the way they finance their campaigns. “When you pick up a finance report of a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, you’ve probably seen what was really spent in that race,” he intones, while claiming that a finance report from the Democrats may have only 40 to 60 percent of the spending due to the influence of “soft money.”
Recall that McConnell no longer says transparency is important — even going so far as to cynically claim that revealing donors to political candidates is akin to limiting “the right of Americans to speak up.”
These actions have elicited praise from most quarters — and they should. Standing up to your own country’s foreign policy is difficult enough on any domestic television station in any country during wartime; just think about how many anchors did similar in the United States (the list isn’t long, and some, like Phil Donohue, were fired for it). It’s even harder to imagine doing it on RT America, which is financed by the Russian government (although has largely American producers and staff).
I used to go on RT America frequently, particularly on the Alyona Show and The Thom Hartmann Show. I went on the network not to parrot Russian foreign policy talking points, but mostly to talk about American domestic and social policy. I knew that the network had an agenda in many areas, but both Alyona and Thom did great, honest journalism despite the overarching agenda of the network. I always spoke honestly, and never came on to discuss any topic relating to Russia.
But that’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post to explain how working in Washington taught me we’re all a little bit like the good folks who work at RT America — struggling against editorial censors, doing our best to follow our conscience despite sometimes suffocating pressures from our publishers and sponsors.
When I started working at ThinkProgress at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in 2009, I did so because it was an awesome platform to do good journalism. I knew that I disagreed with CAP on a number of issues, and that I wouldn’t be allowed to write things too harshly critical of President Obama — which half of senior CAP staff had worked for or wanted to work for — or the Democratic Party, or CAP’s corporate sponsors in the “Business Alliance.”
One of the controversial topics that was very constrained in our writing at ThinkProgress in 2009 was Afghanistan. CAP had decided not to protest Obama’s surge, so most our writing on the topic was simply neutral — we weren’t supposed to take a strong stand. Given that I had just moved up from Georgia, and the American South has a much higher proportion of its population in the Armed Forces, I felt particularly strong that we should oppose the continuation of the war. The people who ran CAP didn’t really agree.
Flash forward a couple years, and the Democratic Party’s lawmakers in Congress were in open revolt over the Afghanistan policy. Our writing at ThinkProgress had opened up a lot on the issue, and I was writing really critical stuff. I worked with our art and design team at CAP to put together a chart showing that Obama’s supposed “withdrawal” plan from Afghanistan would leave more troops in the country than when he began his presidency.
The post was one of the most successful things I had ever written to that point. It was featured by MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell and the Congressional Progressive Caucus used it in their briefings to criticize Obama’s plan. I felt great — like I was actually doing the right thing about Afghanistan for once at an institution that had remained quiet or supportive of Obama’s policy there, which in my view was accomplishing little but more bloodshed.
But then phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy. Obama’s advisor Ben Rhodes — speaking of a staffer who follows policy set by others for his career path — even made a post on the White House blog more or less attacking my chart by fudging the numbers and including both the Iraq and Afghan troop levels in a single chart to make it seem as if the surge never happened (the marvels of things you can do in Excel!).
Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama. It confused me a lot because on the one hand, CAP was advertising to donors that it opposed the Afghan war — in our “Progressive Party,” the annual fundraising party we do with both Big Name Progressive Donors and corporate lobbyists (in the same room!) we even advertised that we wanted to end the war in Afghanistan.
But what that meeting with CAP senior staff showed me was that they viewed being closer to Obama and aligning with his policy as more important than demonstrating progressive principle, if that meant breaking with Obama. Essentially, they were doing the same thing to us RT America is telling its American producers to do now — align with your boss, who is the president of the country.
I left CAP not too long after that, partly for reasons of other censorship dealing with both corporate sponsors and that institution’s fealty to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). I wanted to work at a more independent outlet, but every place I’ve worked for since has had its own editorial constraints and conflicts of interest.
Which brings me to why we’re all a little like RT America. The people who work at ThinkProgress today continue to do awesome, independent reporting. But they have a lot of constraints on them, and I’m sure they wish they didn’t. But it’s an unfortunate reality in many of the journalistic environments we exist today. We can’t criticize certain people, or dig into certain stories, or follow our noses on the trail of corruption if it means upsetting our publishers, sponsors, and donors.
I’m excited by new journalistic models emerging that seek to get around this problem. But until we can create such a platform for the majority of journalists, we’ll all face environments that are not too different from what the folks at RT America face.
So we shouldn’t be too self-righteous, judging those who work at RT who just want to do good journalism — like their Emmy-nominated coverage of Occupy Wall Street. That’s the mistake Politico’s Blake Hounshell made by judging Sam Knight for being a segment producer on The Alyona Show.
In fact, in some respects you could argue RT America is more independent than some American networks. For example, when Russia passed a harsh anti-gay law, the network featured a debate about the law that included people who advocated for boycotting Russia. When was the last time you saw an American network argue for boycotts of the U.S. when we passed an unjust law? And this was just a week before Jamie Kirchick, who bravely opposes all human rights abuses exclusively in geopolitical rivals of the United States, claimed he was kicked off the network for protesting the law (rather than going wildly off-topic, which would get you kicked off of any TV network).
So yes, RT America has its biases and you should know that when you watch its coverage. But don’t judge those who work there, claiming they are just Kremlin Robots out to rebuild the Soviet Empire. They’re not that anymore than I was an Obamabot arguing for a long, pointless war in Afghanistan. True journalists do their best no matter what outlet they work at, and RT America has a lot of those. May they continue to behave bravely despite their sponsors, as should we all.
If you’re into the video game scene, and I am — you know, reading IGN, posting on gamefaqs, belonging to the tiny gamer twitterverse — then you know the old meme about “you will work more hours”; it comes from an awfully bad justification from Sony for pricing the PS3 at 599 U.S. dollars — saying that Americans will just work more hours to afford one.
The latest CBO report on the Affordable Care Act estimates that Americans will reduce the hours they work as a whole thanks to the law. The National Review’s Charles Cooke is very upset about this, calling it an attack on American work ethic.
On my personal Facebook, I wrote a note about this twisted kind of thinking — that at a time when productivity is basically at an all time high, if moms and senior citizens work a little bit less all hell will break loose. Here’s what I wrote:
The CBO report on Obamacare did not say employers will fire people, it predicted workers cut back on hours because they don’t need to work as much to afford cheaper insurance. A conservative, actually a British immigrant, for national review wrote that this is an attack on American work ethic. This tool needs to really reflect on an idea: is a mom who cuts back hours so she can spend more time with her kids suffering from a lack of work ethic? Is a senior citizen who reduces work hours so they can spend time with their grandchildren lazy? You have a job other than what you are paid in wages for: tending to your family, being with friends, teaching yourself new skills. I’m glad health reform will do this.