Category Archives: Uncategorized

Short, Medium, Long Term

Last week (June 20-24, 2022) was a doozy in the U.S. Any other time the US House of Representatives’ January 6 hearings would have dominated the news cycle, but then you had a couple of Supreme Court rulings that rocked the country, the most “rocking” being the Roe v. Wade rollback that was released on Friday. Predictably, and understandably, that ruling led to protests across the country, and thousands, if not millions (billions?) of posts online.

I’m not a constitutional law expert, nor am I a women’s health expert, so I won’t offer any opinions on the merits of the ruling from a legal or medical standpoint. What I do know something about is working in the non-profit sector, with a particular focus on trade associations. That means I’ve spent a fair amount of time representing industries of one kind or another, and providing services to the member companies and their employees, in an effort to promote the growth of the people as individuals, the companies as businesses, and the industries as a body. That’s why, upon hearing the news from the Supreme Court my thinking went immediately to how I would approach the issue if I thought of those who provide women’s health/abortion services as an association (federation model) and women who could/would be patients as members of that association.
(Update: My daughter, who is much smarter than me, actually did a search and found just such an organization does exist. For those so inclined you can visit https://prochoice.org/ for more information).

First I’d do what every association does when confronted with a world-changing moment. That means we’d do an assessment of the situation and immediately begin defining what we need to do short term — think of these as tactical, “can’t wait” activities — then we figure out our medium- and long-term activities. It’s not that we only do the short-term activities from the start, it’s just that they take top priority at the time. Then we do an assessment of the resources needed to accomplish each activity, figure out which ones we can realistically tackle, focus on those and work our butts off to get the resources needed to accomplish them. Again, I’m no expert on the topic of abortion, but based on what I’ve been reading here’s what I see as some of the challenges and how they could be tackled. It’s not intended to be comprehensive – just a collection of thoughts I’ve had over the last few days.

Short Term (first 3-6 months)

Problem: Probably the most critical challenge is for women currently seeking service in states that have “trigger-laws” that immediately made abortions illegal upon the Supreme Court’s ruling, to get access to legal abortions. Some clinics in those states are already working to open operations in other states where it’s legal, but many women don’t have the resources required to travel to those states.
Solution: The association approach would be to fundraise to pay for travel for the women, and provide expertise and the required technology to affiliated local organizations to coordinate the travel of their “members” to clinics in legal states. This program would continue as long as abortion is illegal in any given state.
Problem: In states with trigger laws there could also be an initial fight in the courts about the legality of organizations aiding women seeking abortions in other states.
Solution: The association approach would be to provide on-demand legal services for local organizations or women who find themselves in a court fight. This could potentially be done in partnership with other organizations like the ACLU and Legal Aid.

Medium Term (next 5 years)

Problem: There are a huge number of passionate, energetic people ready to volunteer to fight for this cause. While there are numerous organizations out there that these folks are active through, there is a risk that they could go in multiple directions and not benefit from leveraging their collective resources.
Solution: Creating a federated organization that can pull these disparate groups together to leverage their resources, and organize them so that their work is optimized for maximum effect. It’s a delicate dance because you have to find a way to balance each organization’s unique identity and offerings, while getting them to line up behind a consistent message, political agenda, shared resources, etc. A good example of what I’m thinking is what Feeding America is to food banks, except that group doesn’t have the political challenge that a pro-choice group would have. You’d think this would be a short-term problem, but there’s no way something this complex gets done in a few months so I’d look at this as a medium-term issue.
Problem: States that ban abortions might also try to prevent women from having access to the “Morning After” pill or other therapeutic measures.
Solution: This is a legal and logistical problem. The legal issue could be addressed by an association’s legal operation; the logistical challenge of getting drugs into the hands of women in need could be addressed by teaming clinicians with Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) or even Mark Cuban’s new venture Cost Plus Drugs.
Problem: As far as I can tell there is not a strong legal framework that requires men to assume their share of the responsibility, financial and otherwise, for unintended pregnancies.
Solution 1: The association could create, and fundraise for, a cadre of lawyers to represent women in civil court, to require men to pay for pre-natal care, half (at least) of any of the mother’s related health care expenses, child support, etc. Those same lawyers can represent mother’s in any custody hearings. Again, this might be accomplished by partnering with ACLU, Legal Aid, etc.
Solution 1a: Before you beat me up about the atrocious history of men paying child support, another step the association should take is lobbying Congress and/or state legislatures to make sure these payments can be garnished from wages, that mother’s are first in line at any bankruptcy hearing, etc.

Long Term (foreseeable future)

Problem: With the Supreme Court’s ruling a woman’s access to abortions has become contingent on individual states’ laws. That means that women with limited resources living in states that ban abortions will not have equitable access to care that residents of other states, or women of more means in their own states, have.
Solution: This is a purely political challenge. The association will need to form and lead a long-term political operation that brings together stakeholders at all levels, local, state, and federal to effect the necessary changes to give women equal care no matter where they live. I’m not expert enough to say what the legal remedies are, but no matter what they are there will need to be a significant political shift to accomplish them. That will take long-term funding, coordination and will.

Obviously this outline is pretty simplistic, and unlike industry associations that have a relatively easy to define “membership”, the players in the pro-choice world are far more varied. Believe it or not, however, most industry associations have a fairly diverse constituency and often struggle to get members to agree to how to approach issues, what to prioritize with their political operations, where to concentrate their resources, etc. The same challenge will most definitely be faced by any pro-choice “association”, but the benefit that industry associations provide their members – political influence, shared knowledge base, leveraged legal representation, leveraged resources (particularly technology), a bigger messaging megaphone, volunteer recruitment and management – would be realized by women if a pro-choice association approach is taken.

Fixer-Upper Chapter 1: Housing Sits at the Intersection of Several Complex Systems

The first chapter of Fixer-Upper serves as a prelude to set up the rest of the book, but there are a few good takeaways. My favorite is the criteria Jenny Schuetz provides in “What does a well-functioning housing system look like?”:

  • Housing supply should be reasonably responsive to demand.
  • Within a metropolitan area some new housing should be added in the neighborhoods with highest demand, where people most want to live.
  • Markets should provide a diverse set of housing choices that match household budgets and preferences.
  • Regardless of income, all people can afford decent quality, stable housing in healthy communities.

Back to main Fixer Upper post.

Link to Chapter 2 of Fixxer-Upper Post.

Link to Chapter 3 of Fixer-Upper post.

Link to Chapter 4 of Fixer-Upper post.

Link to Chapter 5 of Fixer-Upper post.

1NT: COVID and Hunger

The following is from Feeding America’s research on the impact of COVID on food insecurity in America:

Before the COVID-19 crisis began, food insecurity in the US was the lowest it had been in more than 20 years, and yet 35.2 million people, including 10.7 million children, were food insecure.

The current crisis is likely to reverse the improvements that have occurred over the past decade as millions of people are newly experiencing food insecurity, alongside those who were experiencing food insecurity before the COVID-19 crisis began. Nationally, more than 50 million people, including 17 million children, may experience food insecurity in 2020 because of COVID-19.

FYI, here in North Carolina the food insecurity rate is predicted to reach 17.6%.

Sobering

For the day job, I get to see lots of reports and data, particularly as it relates to housing. It was one of those reports that had a link to the US Census Household Pulse Survey pageand let me tell you that you’ll find some sobering statistics there about the impact of COVID-19. The survey has been conducted weekly since March 13, 2020, and below are select numbers from week 12, the most recent week available:

Employment Income – Percentage of households that had experienced a loss of employment income:
United States: 51.1%
North Carolina: 45.7%

Expected Loss in Employment Income – Percentage of adults who expect someone in their household to have a loss in employment income in the next 4 weeks:
United States: 35.2%
North Carolina: 29.0%

Food Scarcity- Percentage of adults in households where there was either sometimes or often not enough to eat in the last 7 days:
United States: 12.1%
North Carolina: 11.8%

Delayed Medical Care  Percentage of adults who delayed getting medical care because of the COVID-19 pandemic in the last 4 weeks.
United States: 40.1%
North Carolina: 33.9%

Housing Insecurity – Percentage of adults who missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or who have slight or no confidence that their household can pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time.
United States: 26.5%
North Carolina: 23.0%

K-12 Educational Changes – Percentage of adults in households with children in public or private school, where classes were taught in a distance learning format, or changed in some other way.
United States: 99.4%
North Carolina: 99.7%

 

Five Fact Friday #15

Five random facts for Friday:

As many as 1 billion wild animals are killed by vehicles each year, about 200 million creatures’ lives would be spared annually. – Washington Post

Compared with teetotalers, those with “moderate” drinking habits – classified as up to eight drinks a week for women and fewer than 15 for men – had higher cognition scores in all three areas. They also had significantly lower rates of mental decline. The Week

63% of small business owners say less than 75% of their revenue before the pandemic started has returned. – Axios

Some rats that miss feasting on the scraps are becoming increasingly brazen to find new food sources. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been increased reports of rat cannibalism and infanticide in New York, as well as more rat complaints in residential areas — including in Chicago — as humans produce more food waste at home. – Washington Post

Annual healthcare spending in the US (2018) is $8,949 per capita; military spending is $1,985 per capita- Visual Capitalist

 

Five Fact Friday #14

Five random facts for Friday:

North Carolina has roughly 322 miles of ocean shoreline. – UNC TV

The record high temperature for July 17 in Beaufort, NC is 97° That won’t be broken today but it still feels like a sauna. Weather.com

Jamaican men have run 13 of the 20 fastest 100 meter races ever run. The rest have been run by Americans. – All Time Athletics

At 70 years old, Donald Trump was the oldest any president has been at inauguration. – President Story

9% of the milk produced in the US is used to make ice cream. – IceCream.com

About That Family Gathering

Catawba County (NC) recently published a case study to show how one family gathering of over two dozen people ended up with 14 family members infected with COVID-19 who then spread the infection to 41 people in 9 different families and 8 different workplaces.CatawbaSpread

From the Catawba County posting about this:

Situations like this have become painfully common in Catawba County. I share this example because I hope it can help our community see how easily COVID-19 is actively spreading. More importantly, I hope it will convince us all to be even more willing to do the small things we’re being asked to do to protect ourselves and others: wear a mask in public, maintain physical distance, and wash hands frequently.

It’s not hard to prevent the spread COVID-19. What’s hard is having to call 20, 30, 40 people a day and tell them that not only are they sick with an untreatable illness, but they are also required to isolate themselves from others, including their loved ones, and stay home from work for two weeks or until they recover. This is especially difficult when they do not have the support systems that many of us take for granted, such as paid sick leave, the ability to isolate in their own home, or available caretakers for their children. It’s even harder when they are experiencing severe illness as a result of their exposure – exposure that could have been prevented.

Five Fact Friday #13

Five random facts for Friday:

Coresight Research, which tracks retail store openings and closings, projects that a record 25,000 stores will close in 2020 — up from its pre-pandemic estimate of 8,000. The prior record was last year, when 9,800 stores closed. – Axios

Adolphus Busch, Arthur Ashe and Nikola Tesla were born on July 10. More importantly, so was my mom. Cleveland.com

There are 50.8 million students in 91,276 public schools in 13,598 school districts in the US. Not many of them know right now what their school experience will look like in roughly six weeks. – Education Week

The heaviest freshwater fish caught in North Carolina was an 88 pound smallmouth buffalo. It was caught in Lake Wylie in 1993. – NC Wildlife Resources Commission

In 2010 the US resident population was 308,745,538 (87.4 people per square mile), in 1910 it was 92,228,496 (26 per square mile) and in 1810 it was 7,239,881 (4.3 per square mile). – US Census