In 2016, Christine Mari Palma Start, deputy public defender in Solano County, California came up with an idea of bringing together Filipina attorneys from across the nation to learn from and support each other in an annual conference-type setting. She had just finished her life coach certification and was sworn in as president of the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (FBANC).
After seven months, Start and her attorney colleagues launched the Pinay Powerhouse Collective, a committee within the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA), which became responsible for presenting what is known as the Pinay Powerhouse Conference series. To date, there has been two conferences; a third Pinay Powerhouse will take place this month in Honolulu.
The format of Pinay Powerhouse has been a rousing success. Reputable Filipina leaders from various fields of law – business, government, immigration, public service, the court’s system – are invited to speak and take part in panels where they talk about their expertise in their fields.
But what many attendees find most interesting is hearing these high-powered attorneys’ personal experiences, how they got started, their obstacles, the steps they’ve taken to succeed. The conferences certainly cover topics of the law and its application; but also “real-life” stories of the work-culture where law is practiced, which is particularly meaningful for law students or newly-licensed attorneys.
What’s unique and perhaps what fuels inspiration at these conferences is that all these established attorneys are Filipinas. The speakers, organizers, and attendees share similar backgrounds (many being the first in their families to become a lawyer); and in some cases, have faced similar challenges precisely because of their sex and ethnicity. Yet, they’ve found ways to persevere and advance in their careers.
One attendee of a past Pinay Powerhouse conference said it was the first time ever for her to be in a room filled with Filipina attorneys as herself. Another said going to the conference is like being a part of a sisterhood.
All professional organizations offer something of value for their members – in most cases opportunities for networking, expanding contacts and clients. But there’s that extra special bonding that members of minority organizations share like no other. Their need to advocate for their often underserved community is what draws them together, a kind of shared hunger for justice.
The fact that they are underrepresented in a profession in which great things can be accomplished as in the field of law serves as motivation to foster burgeoning professionals to also be in a position of power and accomplish great things. Mentoring – both finding mentors, then becoming a mentor – has the effect of changing lives.
The National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA) estimates there are about 3,000 to 6,000 Filipino-American lawyers. From that, perhaps nearly half of them are women. The numbers show while there are many Filipina attorneys who have reached top levels in their field, there is still room for improvement. Events like Pinay Powerhouse serve as catalysts toward this end.
Hawaii’s Filipina legal community – practicing attorneys and law students – are fortunate to have Pinay Powerhouse come to the state. Kudos to the national organizer, the NFALA, and local hosting affiliate the Hawaii Filipino Lawyers Association (HFLA) for presenting the conference. It takes hard work and tireless hours to put an event of this magnitude together. We encourage organizations to consider being a sponsor and members in our community to register for the event. Visit PINAYPOWERHOUSE3.COM for details. Mabuhay Pinay Powerhouse supporters; and welcome to our beautiful state.
The National Debt is Exploding; But Mums the Word
Remember when the national debt mattered? When Republicans were up in arms over government overspending? When Sen. Ted Cruz held an overnight marathon speech in the U.S. Senate chamber protesting Obamacare and how expensive it would be if expanded?
Fellow conservative fiscal hawks Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and even conservative religious figure Pat Roberts, stood in the 21 hours 19 minutes theatrical performance which also threatened to shut down the government back in 2013.
Newsflash: the U.S. public debt just recently hit $22 trillion – the highest it has ever been, according to the Treasury Department. The staggering debt is largely due to the massive corporate tax breaks ($1.5 trillion) pushed forward by Republicans while President Donald Trump continues to spend with reckless abandon.
What happened to all the fiscal conservatives protesting practically every social program the Obama administration put forth? They penny-pinched all the way, citing exorbitant government spending over and over again.
Yet, President Trump wants to spend billions for a vanity wall while the debt is at a record-breaking high and tax revenues low; and Republicans remain silent. Crickets.
The civilian Trump said four years ago if the national debt topped $21 trillion by the end of President Obama’s term, “Obama will have effectively bankrupted our country.”
With the debt currently at $22 trillion, what does it say of Trump’s performance? –especially since he campaigned on dramatically reducing the country’s debt. He said in 2015: “When you have $18-19 trillion in debt, they need someone like me to straighten it out.”
Instead, what Trump did was increase spending; and Republicans want to increase military spending by a mind-blowing $80 billion. For perspective, that would be enough to pay for free public higher education, something that progressive Democrats want – but Republicans call it a pipe dream, and dismiss it for being way too expensive.
The politics is transparent and ugly.
The national debt matters to Republicans when it comes to programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, healthcare spending; but there always seems to be enough money for the defense budget, and now, their new “urgent” concern of stopping illegal immigration.
If cutting spending – one-half of dealing with the annual deficit—is apparently a low priority at this moment; what could Republicans have been thinking by dramatically reducing tax revenues with the tax cuts – the other one-half affecting the annual deficit?
Their logic: trickle-down economics.
Republicans are banking that the hefty tax breaks will trickle down to spending, and in turn increase tax revenues. But the Congressional Budget Office already is predicting that the economy will not grow over 2 percent a year on average; and it would take the economy to grow 3 percent annually for this “trickle down” effect to take place.
How does the national debt affect you?
The economy is getting a temporary boost from the recent tax cuts. But economists say, that boost will eventually go back to average rates of growth and should spending and the debt remain at their current trajectory, it could lead to rising interest rates.
That means higher interest rates for credit cards and loans, which have a direct impact on most Americans.
Federal debt also reduces the amount of private capital for investments, which hurts economic growth and wages. The CBO projects, growing debt would reduce the income of a 4-person family, on average, by $16,000 in 30 years.
When the government finally decides it must get a handle on the emergency-level debt, it will resort to less spending that will impact economic growth. Raising taxes would be the eventual course of action to pay down debt.
Time for a reality check
The government cannot continue to rack up debt as if real money is monopoly money. Both political parties are not willing to make necessary cuts because no one wants to be the parent saying, “no, you can’t have this or that.” No one wants to be the bad guy and lose reelection.
Trump is doing everything possible to raise the GDP and show economic growth. But really, he is accomplishing this on credit and debt. Obama also did the same, but arguably, he had no choice to get the country out of the second greatest depression the nation faced which he inherited upon being elected.
At some point, just as the average American does when budgeting his own personal finances – the government must prioritize spending.
An American earning $50,000 a year would not be able to live the lifestyle of a millionaire. Creditors would not allow that. The U.S. government’s creditors (including itself) eventually would find it impossible, too.
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