Category Archives: Society

Women’s Equality Now and Forever

A Republican Party official in Texas, perplexed by the growing movement for equal pay for women in the workforce, opined that rather than resorting to the law, women should merely learn to be better negotiators. The only reason for the pay differential between males and females doing the same work is the lack of negotiating ability among women.

I recall in another era serious editorialists with a slight Southern drawl countering the Civil Rights movement with a patronizing dismissal, “our Black folks are happier when unburdened by the cares and worry that accompany voting rights”.

Yeah, sure.

Discrimination against women, like discrimination against other victims of bias, has no basis in the absurdities propounded by those who defend the indefensible. People who do the same work, and apply the same experience, should be paid the same PERIOD.

My mother entered the business world as a file clerk, progressed to secretary, and then assumed the role and responsibility of a buyer for the purchasing department of a cutting-edge electronics firm that was later acquired by the once-mighty Control Data Corporation. After a number of years performing the function of a mid-level executive buyer, she sought the title and something approximating the salary. Her boss, who frequently turned over the department to her care when he left the office for his 4 hour liquid lunch breaks tut-tutted patiently, “But, Annie, you’re a woman. You can’t have a man’s job even if you are already doing it. It’s just not done”.

Mom already negotiated most contracts for the department, and then typed them up and signed them to boot. But prejudice being what it is precluded her from being paid for the negotiating ability she exercised on behalf of the company. The Law then had not caught up with where we are today, and today is still far away from where we should be.

My wife in high school sought to play basketball but was denied the court unless no boys wanted it. Girls could play only when the boys were done playing and then they were not allowed to form teams for interscholastic competition. Why, she asked. The answer? “But you’re a girl and it’s just not done”. Our girls were free to compete, and our grand-daughter is an outstanding athlete able to out-bat, out-pitch and out-field many of her male friends.

Women are not kept out of the executive suite or off of the athletic field because they lack skills, they are paid piddling less and denied participation due to sheer stupidity. It would be nice if people would overcome their prejudices but it is well past time for waiting. It is the 21st century, equal pay and equal justice is overdue. Now is the time and no later.

 

Lester Frank Ward

“The charge of paternalism is chiefly made by the class that enjoys the largest share of government protection. Those who denounce state interference are the ones who most frequently and successfully invoke it. The cry of laissez faire mainly goes up from the ones who, if really “let alone,” would instantly lose their wealth-absorbing power…. Nothing is more obvious to-day than the signal inability of capital and private enterprise to take care of themselves unaided by the state; and while they are incessantly denouncing “paternalism,” by which they mean the claim of the defenceless laborer and artisan to a share in this lavish state protection, they are all the while besieging legislatures for relief from their own incompetency, and “pleading the baby act” through a trained body of lawyers and lobbyists. The dispensing of national pap to this class should rather be called “maternalism,” to which a square, open, and dignified paternalism would be infinitely preferable.”

LESTER FRANK WARD (1841-1913)

The father of American Sociology and the first President of the American Sociological Association, known as the “apostle of human progress”, Ward believed that we can make Society better by the conscious application of intelligence.

Worth Seeing, We Are Overcoming

 

Universities Sitting on Mountains of Cash

As student debt races past personal and credit card debt, we find more and more ex-students denied a fair chance in life due to overwhelming debt. The colleges disclaim responsibility claiming that they need even more money.

How would students and their families feel when they learn that America’s colleges and universities are sitting on a TRILLION DOLLARS of cash which could be allocated to help students?

Here is an excerpt from a Press Release issued by Student Loan Justice:

Last year, it was reported that the University of Wisconsin had amassed between $400 million- $1 billion in funding, money taken from excess tuition income- most of which was supplied through the nation’s federal student loan program.   This “reserve” was built during a time where the University raised it’s tuition at a record pace and pointed to the national economic crisis as justification for these actions.

It has since been reported that this practice of siphoning tuition income was not limited to the University of Wisconsin.  In fact, it is overwhelmingly evident that most, if not all universities in this country have been engaging in similar practices. The following (courtesy of the University of Wisconsin) is a an incomplete snapshot showing the level of “tuition reserves” amassed by other, similarly sized universities over the past several years*.

These data, if accurate, point to a cumulative tuition “slush fund” of hundreds of billions of dollars, nationwide.  These are not endowments.  These are not charitable funds collected via the altruism of alumni, foundations, or other wealthy benefactors.  These are monies siphoned from the most vulnerable citizens at a time when the wealth disparity between the richest Americans, and these citizens has never been higher.

The universities, writ large, should be ashamed of themselves.  The media should investigate this matter thoroughly to find out precisely how deep and how wide this abuse of the citizenry goes.  The people should be outraged.  Finally, Congress should take whatever actions necessary to acknowledge, and rectify this massive injustice in a manner that benefits those harmed. as opposed to fines, etc, which only serve to enlarge federal, state or other governmental coffers.

SOURCE: http://www.studentloanjustice.org/PR1-6-14.html

 

That Sinking Feeling

Ever try to imagine what the last few hours on the Titanic would have been like?

No need to imagine, the U.S.S. United States is going down. All the lifeboats have already been commandeered by the One Percent.

The following excerpt from Chris Hedges’ latest exposition is powerfully written:

The final days of empire give ample employment and power to the feckless, the insane and the idiotic. These politicians and court propagandists, hired to be the public faces on the sinking ship, mask the real work of the crew, which is systematically robbing the passengers as the vessel goes down. The mandarins of power stand in the wheelhouse barking ridiculous orders and seeing how fast they can gun the engines. They fight like children over the ship’s wheel as the vessel heads full speed into a giant ice field. They wander the decks giving pompous speeches. They shout that the SS America is the greatest ship ever built. They insist that it has the most advanced technology and embodies the highest virtues. And then, with abrupt and unexpected fury, down we will go into the frigid waters.

The last days of empire are carnivals of folly. We are in the midst of our own, plunging forward as our leaders court willful economic and environmental self-destruction. Sumer and Rome went down like this. So did the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Men and women of stunning mediocrity and depravity led the monarchies of Europe and Russia on the eve of World War I. And America has, in its own decline, offered up its share of weaklings, dolts and morons to steer it to destruction. A nation that was still rooted in reality would never glorify charlatans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Newt Gingrich as they pollute the airwaves. If we had any idea what was really happening to us we would have turned in fury against Barack Obama, whose signature legacy will be utter capitulation to the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, the military-industrial complex and the security and surveillance state. We would have rallied behind those few, such as Ralph Nader, who denounced a monetary system based on gambling and the endless printing of money and condemned the willful wrecking of the ecosystem. We would have mutinied. We would have turned the ship back.

See the complete article http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_folly_of_empire_20131014

 

“We have forgotten what this country once understood, that a society based on nothing but selfishness and greed is not a society at all, but a state of war of the strong against the weak. “

CHARLES SIMIC, “Bleak House” New York Review of Books (October 16, 2013)

As the Temps Soar, the MegaFires Burn, Heat Stress Disables More, Pandemics Spread, at Least We Can Rest Assured It is for a Good Cause: The SuperRich will Become Even Richer While the Rest of Us Bake

Tim Radford.                                                                                                                  An excerpt from Climate News Network August 14, 2013

European climate scientists say the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere mean it is inevitable that far more parts of the world will experience more frequent and severe heat waves in the next 30 years.

LONDON, 15 August – Stand by for extreme weather. Prepare for heat waves on a scale that was once unprecedented. For once, there is no “if” in the forecast. Even if governments abandon fossil fuels everywhere, immediately and invest only in green energy, there will be new record temperatures.

The greenhouse gas emissions of the last few decades now mean that regions of the planet subjected to extreme heat will double by 2020 and quadruple by 2040.

Dim Coumou of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and a colleague from Madrid in Spain make this prediction in Environmental Research Letters. In essence, they are only pointing out that the unprecedented heat waves that have already been recorded this century in Australia, the US, Russia, Greece and so on will increase in frequency and extent and in degrees Celsius.

They have followed the mathematical logic of climate models and simple thermodynamics. Extra greenhouse gas already in the atmosphere has pushed up global average temperatures. But an average is only the sum of all the extremes divided by the days in the year.

And as average temperatures rise in response to carbon dioxide levels, so will the extremes. And their forecast says the second half of the century will be even worse – unless global greenhouse emissions are reduced substantially.

“In many regions, the coldest summer months by the end of the century will be hotter than the hottest experienced today –  that’s what our calculations show for a scenario of unabated climate change. We would enter a new climatic regime”, said Dr Coumou.

Such warnings are not new: the World Meteorological Organisation made similar predictions in July, and the first years of this century have been marked by dramatic spells of record-breaking heat. In Russia in 2010, for instance, the temperature in July went up by 7°C to a daily peak of 40°C in Moscow.

Right now, 5% of the land area of the planet has experienced heat extremes, that is, temperatures far beyond the normal for summer at that latitude: temperatures that spell out deaths from heat stroke or heat exhaustion, harvest loss, devastating drought and forest fires.

By 2020 the area at risk will reach 10%, and by 2040, one fifth of the land area of the planet will be experiencing extreme temperatures at some point in the summer, just because of the extra energy already in the planetary system. “There’s already so much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere today that the near-term increase of heat extremes seems to be almost inevitable”, says Coumou.

Editor’s Note; Having just seen the new Matt Damon flick, ELYSIUM, set in the near-future where the SuperRich have escaped the planet to live on a climate-controlled space colony while the 99% broil down below on a polluted, heat-stressed planet subject to police-state oppression, the projection of heat extremities hit home. We can’t help thinking that not long ago when it may have still been possible to take steps to avoid Hell-on-Earth, prudent change was stymied to protect the profits of the Oil-Coal Industry & its owners. When you’re gasping for your last breath, just remember whose sins you and your children are dying for.

The Christian Right Is Dying Off

Although significant polling suggests that the fastest growing segment of the population are religiously unaffiliated, atheists should resist crowing just yet. It appears that most of the unaffiliated are not atheist but religious progressives. It is unfortunate for American politics and the broad progressive coalition operating within it that militant atheists and Christian fundamentalists are agreed upon their common delusion that (1) true Christians can only be right-wingers, and (2) that the progressive movement is inherently non-religious. Religious Progressives are a substantial and essential portion of the progressive coalition. This latest snippet from Salon provides evidence that religious progressives are increasing.

Excerpt from SALON (July 19,2013) written by Katie McDonough

While politicians like Rick Perry and pundits like Bill O’Reilly may clog up a lot of media airtime, the proportion of religious conservatives in the United States is shrinking with each successive generation, and close to 20 percent of Americans today are religious progressives, according to a new survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Religious conservatives account for 28 percent of the total population (38 percent are religious moderates and 15 percent are nonreligious), but religious progressives already outnumber them in the millennial generation:

Religious progressives are significantly younger and more diverse than their conservative counterparts. The mean age of the religious progressive population is 44 – just under the mean age in the general population of 47 – while the mean age of religious conservatives is 53. Twenty-three percent of Millennials (ages 18-33) are religious progressives, while 17 percent are religious conservatives. Among Millennials, there are also nearly as many nonreligious (22 percent) as religious progressives.

Religious progressives are also significantly more diverse than religious conservatives:

Catholics (29 percent) constitute the largest single group among religious progressives, followed by white mainline Protestants (19 percent), those who are not formally affiliated with a religious tradition but who nevertheless say religion is at least somewhat important in their lives (18 percent), and non-Christian religious Americans such as Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims (13 percent). Notably, white evangelical Protestants constitute only four percent of religious progressives. By contrast, white evangelical Protestants constitute more than 4-in-10 (43 percent) religious conservatives, followed by Catholics (17 percent) and white mainline Protestants (15 percent). Black Protestants comprise about 1-in-10 of both the religious progressive (9 percent) and religious conservative (8 percent) coalitions.

They also tend to value different things in their faith:

Nearly 8-in-10 (79 percent) religious progressives say that being a religious person is mostly about doing the right thing, compared to 16 percent who say it is about holding the right beliefs. A majority of religious conservatives (54 percent), on the other hand, say being a religious person is primarily about having the right beliefs, while 38 percent say it is mostly about doing the right thing.

One, Two, Three Brazils . . . One, Two, Three Egypts . . . One, Two, Three, Ten Million Edward Snowdens

I belong to a reading circle and one member has circulated an email noting the recent public protests and riots in Brazil, Egypt and elsewhere and asked with everything happening in the U.S. why aren’t Americans taking to the streets. I am attaching my response to his inquiry —

I think Lou makes a very good point and it has puzzled me as well. I recall once it was widely held that the American people would not tolerate unemployment levels exceeding 5%, and yet we have had such rates for years.

Then again, Social Security was once the third rail of politics and no one, Democrat or Republican would dare assault this program, and now we have a “Democratic” President willing to “reform” the program by cutting benefits.

Roe v Wade has been the law of the land for 40 years, and now any Legislature with a Wacko majority has no hesitation in closing women’s health clinics.

Increasingly, college, which had become a rite of passage for the middle class, has been priced beyond the capacity of middle-class and working-class people. If they do graduate, they do so with a debt hanging over them. Congress-critters AND their staffs have their loans forgiven while everyone else will be paying for life. The S & L executives who looted their own banks have had their debts forgiven but not student debtors. AIG took BILLIONS in Federal loans after having announced publicly that they would not be able to repay the loans, they were forgiven, but not students.

Union contracts for public employees that have been in place 70 years were easily annulled by a Koch-funded Governor and Legislature.

The Big Banks get money from the Feds for zero-to-one percent interest and students have to pay 6.8%.

There is an island of garbage the size of Texas floating in the Pacific.

There is a “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana in which no marine life can live and it is the size of Connecticut. It is one of 170 such dead zones around the world, up from 90 ten years ago.

We went into war based on a lie, everybody knows it, and no one wants to discuss what Nuremberg clearly defined as a “war crime”.

The Courts have repeatedly ruled that the Espionage Act of 1917 is in violation of the Constitution. It was used but twice from 1917 to 2009, and six times since under Obama, the Peace Prize winner.

No President from Washington to Bush Junior has ever claimed the right to kill American citizens without trial, and yet Obama routinely fills out a “kill list”. Obama ordered the killing of a 16 year old American boy residing in an Arab country because his father was suspected of being a terrorist.

The polar ice cap is melting.

Fires are burning with such intensity in the West that the soil is scorched and unable to grow anything thereafter.

Monsanto “owns” much of the seed being used on farms in the U.S. and alters seed genes to claim a patent on life. What’s more the Monsanto bought Congress critters refuse to allow the seed, or the food produced, to be identified as GMO.

The Fukushima power plant released far more radiation into the atmosphere and the oceans than admitted and continues to do so. American sailors who had been ordered to the relief of the Japanese are now dying of radiation sickness which the VA refuses to acknowledge as service-related injuries.

A white man in Florida stalked a black teen even after being told by the police to desist, shot him “because he was afraid”, and is acquitted on the very same day that a black woman in Florida who shot a gun into the air to scare off an attacker is sentenced to 20 years in prison.

A black male born today has a greater probability of being imprisoned than college-educated.

The Supreme Court overturns a piece of legislation protecting voting rights passed with 100% and 90% majorities because in the Court majority’s opinion there is no evidence to support the legislative conclusion. The Court refuses to examine the documentation assembled by Congress supporting its decision.

One Wacko Governor in Michigan appoints local czars to takeover local governments, giveaway public assets, nullify contracts, and defund programs as well as invalidate open elections.

Men and women who volunteered for National Guard service and were then plucked up and sent overseas for repeated terms return home to find their jobs disappeared and claims for vet benefits denied.

In a country where Tea Partisans openly carry guns to rallies at the White House, unarmed peaceful protesters at “Occupy Wall Street” events are rushed by the police, beaten and gassed for standing in a public park.

The very same Congress which stripped food assistance claiming “we can’t afford it” passed a Multi-Billion subsidy for Corporate Farmers essentially guaranteeing their profits with taxpayer money, apparently we could afford this corporate welfare.

Our country spends more on its military than all of the rest of NATO together plus Russia plus China plus Iran plus India. The U.S. has bases or installations in 80-plus countries. The sun never sets on the American empire of bases globally.

Hedge Fund managers receive $ 10,000 an hour, pay the lowest taxes since 1920 and still want further tax cuts.

Everyone in our reading circle paid a higher portion of their incomes into the Social Security fund than did Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Donald Trump and will collect less in public benefits than anyone in the top 1%.

Yes, why aren’t we in the streets? Our Government doesn’t represent us, our economic system isn’t broken, it’s “fixed” and fixed to the advantage of a select few, our environment is being despoiled, our air and water polluted, our food subject to experiments, our kids’ futures mortgaged for life to Banks and financial interests . . . And the list doesn’t end there, we have entered an age in which the varied crises are multiplying, intensifying and interconnecting. We are beset by a Confluence of Crises for which piece-meal fixes and Band-Aid applications are inadequate. Radical action (by which I mean action directed at the root of our problems) is no longer one option, it is the only option that has any chance of preserving anything reminiscent of the American life and American dream which we once knew.


No Need for Comment

Among white, middle-aged Americans (ages 35-64) the rate of suicide has increased 40% in the last 10 years.