Gender Neutral 1

Gender-neutral (G-N) is a very hot topic at the moment and as such there are contrasting views as to whether it is a genuine cry for understanding as a sexual orientation. Or has it been made into a political stick with which to beat traditional society. A number of schools have introduced G-N toilets/washrooms but so far extremely few in the wider community.

A question immediately springs to mind of why that should be. And, a secondary point is why in primary schools. Opponents will shoot straight from the hip that the reason is that it would not be tolerated in adult society. Therefore the argument goes on to suggest that it is an attempt to push the issue through the backdoor.

Another point raised is the number of people who consider themselves as G-N and inevitably what percentage they make up in society as a whole. We do not know but it would seem to be small, very small. This leads to the next question of why should society change to accommodate such numbers and, should society change to suit a tiny minority. A case of the tail wagging the dog!

The latter points have some credence because a change to G-N would necessitate a considerable change in outlook. It would entail a huge financial commitment by governments/States/businesses throughout the world to implement it. And, that assumes that the sexes would readily accept the new environment. Questions arise:

  1. There have been clashes between G-N supporters and feminist groups. Therefore, does it have widespread support?
  2. What would be the extent of embarrassment to both sexes which can lead to feelings of intimidation?
  3. Would urinals be included or would all be expected to use cubicles? I’m sure that many women would welcome the addition of more cubicles within existing arrangements, instead of the perpetual queues that many endure.
  4. Who would be in charge of the seat-up/ seat –down predicament?(no pun intended)
  5. Would disable / child facilities be incorporated?
  6. Would women’s private functions be catered for adequately?
  7. It could take generations for males to respect the new arrangements. (and in the meantime?)
  8. Sex is a most predatory instinct! Is this to be flushed away? Can it?

? In a multiple of places I have seen separate disable and child changing arrangements. Why not a similar idea for gender-neutral?

Therefore, is the promotion of G-N an attempt to manipulate society through a political desire for change? This brings us to the classic philosophical debate of whether the needs of the individual should supersede the conditions set by the majority. Taking a purely elitist liberal stance the individual is supreme. Does that therefore mean that the individual has no responsibility to the community? John Stuart Mill has a lot to answer for.

A supportive view is mentioned by Francis Fukuyama, (534) when he suggests that majorities in a democracy can ‘violate the rights of individuals and minorities,’ and find ways to impede there progress. It is, he submits, a question of law and who implements the law. However, democracy itself can and is circumvented by powerful interest groups to get their own way. In many cases this can be simply put as ‘the louder you shout the more you get.’

Big Q: Who owns the franchise on openness? 

Can manipulation be condoned when following an ‘enlightened’ agenda? The alternative view must be that no form of manipulation can be acceptable because we can never be sure of the long-term consequences of change. To be welcomed by most change must happen at a pace that can be tolerated by the population, otherwise you are likely to be hit by various fault lines.

A scenario of a backlash leads us directly into the old –traditionalist V the avant-garde which is a false setting. The given scenario allows the promoters of change to castigate the mainstream as backward etc. This of course is a huge misrepresentation as many who wish to hold tight to the reins of change just want to ensure that the baby is not tossed out with the bath water.

 

It is indeed rational to want to digest possibilities, to think things through and eventually feel comfortable with the proposal. Youth on the other hand has a tendency to charge ahead without due consideration. If it sounds exciting, if others are doing it, then we can’t be seen to be a stick in the mud. Charge!

“Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.”

Tennyson

 

As an alternative we might look to Ambrose Philips 1671 – 1749

But when reflection comes with riper years,

And manhood with a thoughtful brow appears;

We cast the mistress off to take a wife,

And, wed to wisdom, lead a happy life.

Hm. It’s all a matter of perception which fosters opinion but reflection should be a critical element in our thinking and development. It may be fun to run but a walk gives us time to talk.

Moreover, how much consideration has been given to the long-term consequences of G-N on a world bases? Or is there a built in assumption on the part of the G-N lobby that their programme of change will make everyone happy. Everyone get on board – the Titanic comes to mind. (Unforeseen consequence)

Questions arise:

  • How will the education system be affected?
  • Can we expect greater sexual confusion?
  • What percentage of the new society will consider themselves G-N?
  • How will it affect relationships?
  • How will that affect population/species survival?
  • Will there be an input from genetic engineering?
  • Will opposition be allowed to thrive?

There are too many questions. It’s time I started on a book!

  • Francis Fukuyama – Political Order and Political Decay

 

The Jink Gang

CHARGE! And they roar as they stampede towards the enemy. Suddenly they come to a halt at the moat, hurdle their abuse, stomp their rage, and make threats they cannot impose. Just then someone shouts – another fight! and off they run. Charge!

Meanwhile, the residents of the castle carry on; as do the folks on the bailey, little changed. In the distance if you strain your hearing there’s a faint echo of: charge! The stumbling, fumbling ‘Jink Gang’ push on.

Gradually some will tire as other commitments surface and the mantle is passed to the blood of youth. Others will stay for they wish to retain the notion of youth and have no ambition to accept responsibility. Love, marriage, home and kids take centre stage. Having a job and keeping it becomes a major priority.

HORROR! There is no remorse as they meld into the society they abhor to become castle dwellers or ambitious folk from the bailey. Gone is their naked rage to be replaced by a conscious awareness that needs change. It is not their war anymore. And the carousel continues to turn.

Such is the existence of the liberal left. With no clear plan, and little understanding of how to attack the castle stronghold or gain the support of the bailey folk, they tread on. Busily, they chase after every concept of injustice believing that they, are the acorns of change.

Taking sides is part of the ‘must plan’, embracing any group perceived to be downtrodden. Thus they have pigeon-holed minorities as the only true sufferers, all others are fakers. Unfortunately, there is no big picture for that would spoil the view and it takes time to draw such a picture. And haste is of the essence.

Fighting fascism is a pivotal rule of the ‘must plan’ but questioning the fascist tendencies of communism is so blasé. If you cannot abide by the rules don’t apply to join.

After the dinner party at the theatre the entourage, behind the canvas throw, demand a uniformity of approach to all injustice they identify. There are rules for a purpose: listen, learn, and adopt the new language, let us speak in neutral terms in all conversation.

Accept the new thinking, it would be boorish not to. Pay heed to the wisdom of our leadership and the world will achieve a new harmony where all will be at peace.  We shall build from the bottom up so that all benefit. Just follow our lead. You know we are right.

You cram these words into mine ears against

The stomach of my sense.” Alonso. The Tempest (11.i.)

Out of context but sharp and to the point on sentiment.

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, what about capitalism?

*Don’t trivialise our movement with unanswerable questions!

In our world the individual is supreme; their needs are paramount. We show our humanity by such actions.

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, which individuals?

*You are a peevish little sod!

Excuse me Sir/Madam/ Neutral person, where do I fit in? I’m a poor working class person and suffer from ego-depletion1 (42) which means I’m more likely just to give up. You see, most who live in poverty suffer from these symptoms and when you live in my world misfortune walks with you every day.

You may not know but I have a high U-index which means I spend a lot of time in an unpleasant state of mind. (393)Another thing Mr Kahneman2, points out when studying the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (396-397) is that:

“The objective of policy should be to reduce human suffering. We aim for a lower U-index in society. Dealing with depression and extreme poverty should be a priority.”

I may be wrong but Mr Kahneman’s view seems to be very broad and means everybody in those circumstances. And do you know what – everybody includes me!

1 & 2 Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow               Penguin Books

Excuse me Sir/Madam/Neutral person, can I ask a few questions?

  1. What makes you think your way is better than any other?
  2. How do you differ in approach from fascists?
  3. Will we still be living under the capitalist system?
  4. How do you plan to control the underbelly of sex and money?
  5. If you believe in a better world with decent welfare for all; why do you have a tax avoidance business arrangement?

*Nosy little shit!

 

Drawbridge Brothers 4

Banksy

Diversity is a weak glue. Its purpose is to placate today’s society. It is based on a vision that suggests that society will not change. The basic premise is that of equal opportunity and a general respect for the rights of the individual, inclusiveness. Unfortunately, this brings diversity into conflict on various aspects of its tenets.

You must admit it is a lovely picture, well drawn and you can see why many are attracted to it. But it was drawn in charcoal, posted on the outside and it rained. The jolly old rain!

We can all agree with Ha-Joon Chang1 that “Equality of opportunity is the starting point for a fair society.” But and it is a big but, “However, it is equally unjust and inefficient to introduce affirmative action and begin to admit students of lower quality simply because they are black or from a deprived background.” From any angle we come back to the obvious conclusion that we are dealing with discrimination.

Is it ok to discriminate against a rich kid because their family has money and therefore his/her life chances are so much better? To which group should we lend our support – an underprivileged female or an underprivileged black person? Michael Sandel2 deals with this question expertly.

Sandel prompts us with a proposition that affirmative action is acceptable because it fulfils a ‘socially worthy aim’. That still leaves us with the problem of discrimination. The real question is why society needs affirmative action or diversity, what is the root cause? We are always skipping over the big question as though it is too big to solve. Stay clear a political volcano is about to erupt!

Professor Johnathan Wolff3 opines that affirmative action can be ‘patronizing and degrading, and, in the long term, may do more harm than good’. America has had a form of affirmative action since the mid-1940s. While a number of black and Hispanic people have gained from the initiative the vast majority are still on the bottom rung of life chances.

As Wolff points out, ‘…equal political rights are worth fighting for, but they are of little value if you are still treated unequally in day to day life.’ So, even democracy may not solve the problem. Representative democracy is subject to corruption and nepotism to mention but a few distractions.

Tony Blair came to power in the UK 1997 with a sound bite of ‘education, education, education’. Later his left-wing credentials were left shattered on the ground as he became more Thatcherite than Maggie.  We have to take a serious look at the power of the market over our lives to find a solution?

In South Africa, apartheid was shown the way to …. Off. However, the ordinary people are no better off financially or socially; they are free, but free to live in poverty. The ANC has not delivered!

We are constantly told that a strong and growing economy is the best way to ease the burden of poverty. It seems to be one of Theresa May’s favourite sayings and guess what, she’s wrong. The 2008 financial crash is testament enough. The market ruled and the people lost – big time.

Therefore does ‘trickle-down economics work? According to J Stiglitz4 the nations that adopted the Washington Consensus – the American way – strong growth everyone wins “…the poor have benefitted less from growth.” This is supported by Ha-Joon Chang1 “Trickle down does happen, but its impact is meagre if we leave it to the market.” Poverty is as widespread today as ever.

Therefore, the concept of diversity sounds good looks good but is wishy-washy. It is all things to all people. I’m sorry but that cannot be the way forward. We cannot allow certain sections of society to spew their intolerance for others as a belief. We cannot allow a minority group to dictate policy for the nation.

If we are to build an understanding that will last then we must accept that that will take time. We must talk not push, we must listen not railroad, and we must argue not fight. Remember inclusiveness! Let’s put it to music

The road is long

With many a winding turn

That leads us to who knows where

Who knows where

But I’m strong

Strong enough to carry him

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

 

Songwriters

Bobby Scot, Bob Russell

Read more: Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

1.       Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About CAPITALISM (p210) (pp137-138)

2.       Michael Sandel, Justice (chap:7 pp167-183)

3.       Johnathan Wolff, Political Philosophy (p186 + p91)

4.       J Stiglitz, Globalization, (p79)

 

Drawbridge Brothers (2) Diversity

Banksy

Diversity ‘the great leap forward’ engineered by the Liberal elite was set to lead the whole population in a new and dynamic direction. But, they didn’t bother or merely forgot to invite the rest of us on their planned run. Now we have to be corralled. Little wonder therefore that there’s been a backlash.

Being intimidated to follow a diktat rubs most people up the wrong way. Especially so, when they have to consider every utterance they make for fear that someone will report them to the politically correct (PC) Stasi.

However, it’s more than just being PC:

  1. University of Edinburgh – “Diversity aims to recognize, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realize their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture…”
  2. University of Oregon – “It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences”. E.g. race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs etc.

http://www.ed.ac.uk/equality-diversity/about/equality-diversity

http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~asuomca/diversityinit/definition.html

It would seem that the advocates of diversity do not fully comprehend their own philosophy as they find it difficult to talk of opponents without the use of abuse (racists, bigots and Neanderthals). In doing so they fail to:

  • Build an inclusive culture
  • Recognize individual differences.
  • Others political and religious beliefs.

A question arises as to, which ‘individual difference’ takes preference, e.g. if a Christian landlord refuses to have a homosexual guest; which has precedence? If a religious body cannot accept homosexuality as an ‘individual difference’, which has precedence?  If women in a certain section of society are downtrodden, which has precedence?

We fast move along to a political hierarchy! So, are we recognizing that the other ‘differences’ are more important than religious belief? In that case should we not have a prescribed list in order of importance? But wait, if we have a list of preference are we not moving away from an ‘inclusive culture’?

  1. So is religious tolerance in or out? Or must it conform to the ideological script to be allowed on board?

Let’s leave it to the courts and sneak further from democracy.

  1. Is it justified to put right yesterday’s wrongs by over indulgence of the present generation of minorities?
  • Justification?……….. Leave a reply!
  • What of equality before the law? Has it been kicked into the long grass temporarily or permanently?

Political belief is a hot potato and many on the right-wing do not like the concept of diversity and so, should be – disenfranchised – allow only Labour and Liberal and, maybe a smattering of Conservatives – but only if they denounce Thatcherism! That darn woman!

In America the concept is wrapped up in the political agenda of Affirmative Action (AA) which has been in force for over 50 years. Again the term ‘inclusive’ strikes a hypocritical chord with many because they feel excluded. Since the 1940s the U.S. government has issued executive orders to ensure that sub-contractors are employing workers on an equal opportunity basis. This has led to cries of ‘reverse discrimination’.

Others, such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggests it creates a “cult of victimization” because it implies that black people need a leg up. It has also met with political opposition with the states of: California, Washington, Michigan, and Nebraska refusing to implement AA.

A study by Thomas Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung (2005) found a bias against white and Asian students trying to enrol in ‘highly selective private research universities’. A further study carried out by T. Espenshade (2009) found a similar bias in college intake, with Asians at the bottom of the pile.

Such has been the build-up of resentment that a survey in 2007 found that 52% of whites thought that AA should be abolished. Of course this could be as a result of better right-wing propaganda or worryingly, a strong feeling of being left out. The latter is certainly the case among Asians as in 2015 a coalition of 60+ Asian-American groups filed legal battles to gain equal opportunities. Up to the present law cases are pending.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action_in_the_United_States#Arguments_against_affirmative_action

It is true to say that AA has helped a lot of people and was perhaps, the best option at the time. This is the attitude of Noam Chomsky, but he also recognizes that, “… you find plenty of things to criticize”.

Noam Chomsky, How The World Works (pp211-212)

Some may argue that only the negative view has been expressed. However, if the intention of diversity is ‘inclusive’ then surely we must examine the voices of discord to ascertain where things are going wrong.

In the UK in recent times we have witnessed the Labour and Liberal parties institute an all-female panel for the election of prospective Members of Parliament (MP’s).

  • Is this justified?
  • Is it legal under equal opportunity?
  • Is it patronizing?
  • Will it cause any resentment?
  • Will the candidate have the respect of her fellows?
  • How will having more females in parliament make it more democratic or work better?
  • Is it all a cynical ploy to garner the female vote?

I suspect that many of the issues concerning women have more to do with the economic demands of the capitalist system than the backwardness of male MP’s. I could of course be wrong! It may be a combination of both.

The introduction of diversity was an attempt to dictate the thinking, acts and actions of the people. Which other regimes tried to dictate the thinking, acts and actions of their population? I’m thinking Germany and Russia, China etc.

It is a tough ask to change people’s thinking, acts and actions especially if it must be done now. There is nothing wrong with the concept, if we walk together. It’s just the terrible hash made of its introduction. It can only be considered thoughtless in the extreme. The Liberal elite and the political class have learned nothing from business that has long been aware that the top-down approach has serious drawbacks.

The political class have set back any hope of achieving diversity by their lack of vision and their childish rush. It may take two maybe three generations for it to take a hold on the psyche. Of course there’s always the possibility that it was a purposeful screw up!

A blanket approach to diversity as has been adopted is a severe weakness; pampering to every group and the individualist outlook is much too general. Individualism can only exist as long as the great majority are tolerant.

Moreover, a set agenda is a blind spot. Though it does lead to a piece of clarity from Karl Popper, “Who plans the planners”? Because, “…our actions in any case are likely to have unintended consequences”. Does this strike a chord??

Bryan Magee, Popper (p100)

Diversity was born of intolerance of others bias and grew in intolerance. Such was the zeal of improving the lot of many; it produced an army of zealots. That’s the nature of political emotion. The army of zealots and the patronizing attitude of the politicians played a major role in the advent of populism. Reap…..

Marchers Against Trump

Of course it is early days but can the movement set up to oppose Donald Trump, the new President of the United States be successful. Or is it all much ado about nothing? The turnout for the marches was very impressive. The question is whether it can be maintained. According to the NY times there was a four (4) hour meeting directly afterward in New York by the organisers to think of ways to keep and build on the momentum. The danger is that it will frizzle out like so many other spontaneous movements.

An article in the NY Times by Farah Stockman makes disturbing reading as it points out that the issue of race was raised almost immediately by black activists.  A comment by one such activist from Brooklyn wrote on the Facebook page encouraging participation, “…white allies. Listen more and talk less.”

On reading the above quote a wedding planner, Jennifer Willis from South Carolina was put off attending the rally. She had planned to do so with her daughters but felt that the message did not make her feel welcome.

While we may understand to a degree the activist’s attitude as black people are on the bottom rung in American society. Nonetheless, her belligerence put Jennifer Willis off. This was not an isolated incident as Stockman pointed out that the issue of race “erupted every day, exhilarating some and alienating others”. Tension was also visible in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Another damning point raised by Stockman was that Trump campaigned against ‘political correctness’ and won with half of white female voters supporting him. I’m sure that Trump had more than one issue on which he campaigned. However, the article highlights the divisions in American society which make it almost impossible to build a cohesive movement against his brand of politics.

A further divisive illustration comes from the Portland NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The body refused to become a part of, “…a white – women kumbaya march”. The main grievance was that the organising committee was not diverse enough and no speaker was arranged on the question of race. www.wweek.com/2017/01/11

Nonetheless, the march did go ahead and 100,000 turned out in the pouring rain to show their opinion. It is unclear whether the NAACP found a solution and participated.

Division was also evident in the choice of partner organisations. It appears that pro-life groups were not welcomed as found by the New Wave Feminists whose stance includes: anti-abortion, anti-war and against the death penalty. The complaint of the group was that they had been accepted onto the rooster but later ‘kicked off’, as were similar groups; ‘Students for Life of America’ and ‘And Then There Were None’. They joined the march anyway. www.catholichearld.co.uk

One group Planned Parenthood, who had carried out 324,000 abortions (2014 Annual Report), was accepted as a partner organisation. Therefore from the outset a political agenda was formed. Thus it is no longer a women’s movement but a political one. It may appear as a decisive step but if it leads to alienation then it is non inclusive. This is a sizable weakness. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood

The problem surrounding the abortion debate is the entrenchment on both sides. They are the ‘Bubble People’ they see only their point of view ergo there is no room for a cosy chat over a mug of coffee to find common ground.

The NY times also reported that minority women feared that any success for the movement would only benefit the white working class. While this would not be true it is illustrative of the hurdles that must be gone over.

The article in the Times also mentioned that, “Now a wide range of groups”, are trying to keep the movement going. At first glance such a coming together can appear as a sign of strength; rather, it’s a weakness. It is a weakness that can unravel the movement at any given time. Each group may come to a meeting not to find a common objective but to promote their own agenda.

Individual groups may argue that their programme for change is one that promotes all women. One could condemn any such group as wearing blinkers or of being politically naïve. Any bid to promote a singular issue is wrong on several levels:

  • I have highlighted two contentious standpoints that of race and pro-life. Both of these areas have multiple bodies claiming to represent the whole and within their field there will be factions that want a more confrontational approach, while others will abhor any hint of violence.
  • A place at the top table and how it will be manufactured can be a very divisive block. The question of representation can be critical as noted above. Will it be by quota, e.g. said amount of black people – Asian – Hispanics – Latino – white? What of partner organisations, will their size determine their quota or seat at the top table? How will this reflect on the political stance of the movement? Many questions, there resolution will be critical.
  • Any attempt to list their priorities can also be fraught with problems. A danger rests in trying to accommodate all the partner organisations and thus the demands become too numerous to gain political traction. Some groups may feel that their particular issue has not been given sufficient prominence.
  • In future demonstrations will the organisers insist on ‘passive resistance’ (Mahatma Ghandi & Martin Luther King) or allow each group to form their own policy. Another problem is keeping anarchists and others from trying to usurp the demos. Therefore who will police any future protests?
  • It will be assumed that the organisation will be democratic; the problem will come in unrolling equal participation. How will they prevent any one group becoming dominant? Therefore causing others to walk away.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/us/after-success-of-womens-march-a-question-remains-whats-next.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-2&action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/09/us/womens-march-on-washington-opens-contentious-dialogues-about-race.html?_r=1

 

There are so many hurdles, so many pitfalls that it will be incredibly difficult to maintain a united stance. Some inspiration may be found in the Shriver Report of 2014 written by Sonia Pressman Fuentes of NOW (National Organisation for Women). The report highlights eighteen (18) issues that women should fight to implement.

www.shriverreport.org/top-18-issues-challenging-women-today

  1. Poverty: I was surprised to read that in 2014 some 70million women and their children live in poverty in the U.S. That America has the largest number of homeless women and children of any industrialised country. Who could not lift their banner of protest against such a picture of despair?
  2. Wages: It is a universal truth that women are disproportionately found in low-paying jobs. But according to Harvard economist Claudia Goldin if employers showed more flexibility on hours and location the pay gap could be greatly reduced. This would help women everywhere.
  3. Violence: I was staggered by the numbers -270,000 rapes or sexual assaults annually in USA. That 1 in 3 females murdered is killed by a partner. Of course this is a world issue so perhaps the ‘movement’ in the U.S. could link up with Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) who have held large demonstrations in Argentina in a struggle against a culture of machismo. The fight in Argentina has been followed by groups in Uruguay and Chile.
  4. Abortion Rights
  5. Maternal Mortality Rates
  6. Sick pay and parental leave
  7. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act – needs to be enforced.
  8. Affordable Child Care: This like some others is a world problem. Johnathan Cohn cited in the report, states, “The lack of quality, affordable day care is arguably the most significant barrier to full equality for women in the workplace.”
  9. Women in prison and their horrid treatment.
  10. Human Trafficking: where nightmares are 24/7.
  11. Female representation in many aspects of society. A world problem.
  12. Discrimination in academia.
  13. Under representation in the Justice system.
  14. Under representation in large companies.
  15. Under representation and unequal pay in entertainment industry.
  16. Keeping women in high tech jobs.
  17. Lack of health insurance, affects 30m women and girls in U.S.
  18. CEDAW Treaty – an international bill of rights for women. USA only major country that has not ratified it.

They are all good causes though some are U.S. specific. I have chosen five (5) issues which I believe are uncontentious but significantly are world issues that could help galvanize women everywhere.

Poverty: Nobody can deny that poverty affects millions all over the world and if women didn’t cope our global society would fall apart. By embracing the cause of poverty and, the numbers in America are significant, a message of hope is sent wherever the internet reaches.

Wages: An issue that women in the Western World can readily agree with. It is in the West that the cudgel can be thrown down. If women in the West are not to be trifled with a message of hope flies around the world faster than a jet.

Violence: Where in the world have women not been acquainted with violence? The fight back in South America can only be uplifting for women everywhere. The culture of machismo is world-wide. Men are conditioned towards violence and especially when they feel inadequate. It needs a massive input into education.

Child care: Governments keep talking about getting more women into the workplace but do little to encourage or enforce businesses to cater for those with children. The quote by Johnathan Cohn above tells us just how big an issue it is.

Human Trafficking: The powerlessness of these women and children surely has a resonance with all women to some extent. A global business generating some $32 billion annually: what price misery. What cost men’s libido? It’s a tsunami of barbarity, women and children used worse than pigs in a pen. There is no bright star in their sky. Unless….

Equality of Burden

By accepting the premise that all women, no matter their status, are treated as second class citizens in some aspect of their life then you have equality of burden. There is no race, no religious or class issues; these are barriers to unity. If women can see beyond their present status and they can on many issues, then they can organise/vote for change as a singular body.

America has pole position in the chase for change. However, much will depend on their ability to overcome their biases. It’s a huge problem as bias can debilitate any organisation. As noted earlier tensions arose immediately concerning race, while some minority groups feared that it may become a programme for the white working class.

However, any change in working conditions would by necessity of law include all who work in that environment. What has emerged is just how divided American society is and how perceptions can be skewed. It is a massive task for the women’s movement but a unique opportunity to transform society.

A further testing case for the organisers of the women’s movement will be their attitude to the 53% of white females who voted but voted for Trump. (NY times & Newsweek) Two points can be raised immediately e.g. will they be welcomed to participate in subsequent action or simply dismissed as beyond exorcizing.

Unfortunately, some will dismiss them as right-wing fascists and want nothing to do with them. Others will recognise that if you nick them they will bleed. Surely there are issues on which the vast majority of women can agree? It would be a failure of magnitude not to invite the Trump supporters to participate. The opposition would correctly admonish the women’s campaign as not representative of all women.

Not to welcome, not to embrace the white women who voted Trump would be akin to railroading yourself into a cul-de-sac. It must also be remembered that around 30% of Hispanics voted Trump. If women are to make a credible difference, a long lasting difference, then they need the overwhelming majority on their ticket. This necessitates that some, perhaps more than some, will have to burst their bubble and walk out into the sun to welcome the warmth that camaraderie brings.

And thus it has to be noted that abortion is an extremely contentious issue and organisers must be cognizant of the millions of Catholic women and other religious groups that cannot accept abortion on demand. It is in recognising differences that we gain strength. As a fillip to the abortionist lobby I would recommend, the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”

We Will Vote IF…

That is why non-contentious issues are vital. One such is violence. State the case by issuing an ultimatum: we will vote if your party will sanction stiffer penalties for violence against women and a fully paid programme in schools to educate about such violence.  If not fully implemented we will vote against you or abstain in the mid-term elections. Therefore you pick the battles you want to fight.

We will vote, IF… the government puts forward a programme to smash poverty by introducing legislation to build homeless shelters in every state. Produce a remit to subsidize specific charities to provide food and clothing to the most needy. No child should go hungry in America! No child should go without an equal chance in America! The same applies for the whole of the western world. A minimum wage can be a crucial element.

The issue of a minimum wage can be a winner as evidence shows it already has support from both Democrat and Republican women. At present the minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25. A proposition in 2014 to increase it to $10.10 over a two year period was defeated in the Senate by the Republicans.

However, the Republican states of: Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota all elected to increase their minimum wage.  This is a clear illustration that certain issues can bridge the gulf between the classes and race to gain cross political support. The measure would have affected 16.5 m workers and lifted 900,000 out of the poverty trap. A study of Claudia Goldin’s research might reveal a second route forward.

Furthermore, to have someone’s living standard dependant on the size of a tip is monstrous. It means that tipping becomes an expectation and a must, and, is thus an unfair burden on both the waiter and the diner. Surely the amount of a tip should be based on the quality of the meal and the standard of service and not as an obligation to help the worker survive.

It’s unbelievable that the worker gets around $2.13 an hour and has to make the rest up by tips. Does the owner of the establishment then take a cut if the tips go beyond the national minimum wage? The owner must be sitting in the back of the premises counting up his profit. Scrooge lives!

Further up the ladder would require legislative change to enforce employers to act accordingly with severe penalties if they do not. Example: Any employer found to be breaking the law should be made to pay full compensation to the employee- X – by the number of year’s service and face a fine of the equivalent of one year’s income for each employee affected, plus the cost of bringing the action.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_in_the_United_States

child care

A simple must!

Child care is the one issue that affects every family though some much more than others. I was drawn to a TV news programme the 51% on France24.com. 31/01/17 The programme which focusses on women’s issues worldwide highlighted a growing dilemma for nations in Europe. Apparently women are having fewer children and a growing number are having none. This can be construed as a matter of choice but it has long term consequences.

The obvious downside is fewer young people which equates with less taxes = less to pay for pensions + less workers = less people available in care industry etc. The main solution was to greatly increase provision of affordable child care allowing more women to have a career and a family. It gives considerable credence to the view expressed by Johnathan Cohn cited earlier.

Discrimination against pregnant workers and new mothers is an ongoing problem. It should be a matter of law, an obligation of society, taken for granted that such provision is given. After all, were would we be without pregnant women? Again it requires government to get tough but it will only do so with your vote or threat of abstention.

Child care generally is patchy, haphazard and chaotic in places but its importance cannot be underestimated, “High quality early childhood programs are viewed by many educators as a critical way to help overcome the learning deficit many low-income kids face when they start kindergarten – an obstacle many never overcome”.

While 1.6 million families use federal subsidies the facilities and teaching are not always up to scratch. Overall there is $5 billion spent on subsidies but few reports on inspection or on background checks of the workers. www.cbsnews.com/news/review-finds-lax-child-care-rules-across-us

This investigation took place in 2013 and since then Obama has instituted a programme, Preschool for All with an estimated cost of $75bn over ten years, paid for by a tax increase on cigarettes. At the time over one (1) million were not receiving any preschool. The take up figures for those living below the poverty line was less than 50%. U.S. is one of the worse industrialised countries for preschool education and especially if your poor.

Moreover, Obama’s scheme has come under serious criticism from an educational specialist, Grover J. Whitehurst who argues that a study in Tennessee has more of, “…a positive effect on children’s social/emotional development”. He argues that Obama’s plan is lacklustre at best. Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K Program (TN – VPK) is aimed at 4 year olds from low-income families.

https://thinkprogress.org/update-obama-budget-includes-75-billion-to-fund-preschool-for-all-initiative-83a77a17d8d8#.pe1z6ghdx

https://www.brookings.edu/research/new-evidence-raises-doubts-on-obamas-preschool-for-all/

Exploitation

There is a road so dark that only evil walks there, it’s the route of the people traffickers. It has to be the most despicable of all trades and this should be reflected in the punishment. A minimum of 30yrs in prison and all assets seized. Every nation should have special units that cooperate worldwide.

Any politician found to be involved must immediately stand down and all their assets seized even if it leaves their family without a home. Tough, but then they are the perpetrators of unimaginable misery.

This is a long term proposal over a ten (10) year period but action must be seen to be taken. It is also a critical issue because it mainly affects women and girls. If you can’t send out that message of hope – then go home.

The NOW organisation was founded in 1966 by 49 members of whom two were male. Only nine of the stalwarts are still active but seem to have their finger on the pulse.

Moreover, the folks at NOW might have a lot more to contribute to today’s organisers. What has inspired them to keep going all these years? What have they learned and what can they impart. There must be many stories about achievements and disappointments. There will also be lots of contacts; not forgetting the stored ability of those still standing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Organization_for_Women

http://now.org/

 

If the road was clear, with no traffic, then the women’s movement could march straight ahead gaining momentum as they pass each village and town. (Ghandi’s Salt March) Unfortunately, there are many actors who are cocksure of their direction and are adamant that their voice should rise above all others. They are a hindrance because they cannot hear the others sing. They are the soloist who feels superior to the choir.

It is these soloists that will hold back and eventually break a movement that holds a mountain of promise. They must be told to leave their baggage at the door. If they cannot burst their own bubble it must be broken for them.

There is abundant evidence that at grassroots there is massive support to push forward women’s issues. It is the collective noun that is the vital ingredient to the mix. There is an overwhelming wealth of talent out there, it would be a catastrophic failure to restrict it or allow it to fritter away. There is also solid evidence that a victory can be won by promoting a National Minimum Wage.

This is a win – win issue that can galvanize the whole movement and give heart to those on both sides of the track that all can contribute. It can be a significant stepping stone. Be careful Donald, there’s an army on your doorstep!

Vote or Abstain:  the power lies with you!

 

Affirmative Action: A Dodo in the Nest

Banksy

Banksy

Affirmative action was introduced in the USA in the 1960s in an attempt to address previous discrimination. To this day it is a very controversial topic with clear political divisions. Arguments range from the common good to forcing some to accept the sins of the father.

It is an emotive subject which brings bias bursting out as a good kick at a wasps nest might do. Was it a purely political decision to calm and contain the fervour of the period, with the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement?  If that is the case then the opposition can claim it had an inherent bias. Others will argue that the Kennedy period was a progressive one.

An important question arises as to whether we can ever right the wrongs of the past. America was a politically divided society then and, things ain’t changed much. Bryan Magee suggests an answer, “[I]f all individuals have equal moral claims it is wrong to sacrifice one generation to the next.”1

However, Noam Chomsky takes a different view when he states that anyone opposing affirmative action is accepting the ‘oppressive’ and ‘discriminatory’ measures of the past. He is 100% wrong! He himself hints at problems when he says “…you find plenty of things to criticize.” 2

A very important point is raised by Chomsky that affirmative action should not, “…harm poor people who don’t happen to be in the categories designated for support.” (p211) That’s probably most of the poorest in society.

The issue of poverty is raised by Michael Sandel when he cites the case of Cheryl Hopwood. 3 This was a young woman raised by a single parent who worked her way through the education system. She gained the appropriate grades and applied to the Texas Law School. Her application was turned down. It emerged that students from minority backgrounds with less impressive scores all gained entrance. Hopwood who is white thought her rejection was unfair; she took the university to court. She lost.

The university won its case by citing its affirmative action policy which committed it to accepting about 15% of entrants from a minority background. A quota? At the time African Americans and Mexican Americans accounted for about 40% of the population of Texas.

That the law sanctioned affirmative action does not by itself make it logical or just. A legal mind is also subject to a political outlook; hence each elected president attempts to have the Supreme Court at least balanced if not skewed in their favour. Political bias can sway the greatest minds e.g. Plato – closed society and Aristotle – slavery.

And so it would seem with legal judgements on affirmative action:

  • 1996 US Court of Appeals ruled that affirmative action could not be a factor on admission decisions as it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
  • 2003 US Supreme Court upheld that affirmative action can be applied as a mechanism by a vote of 5-4.
  • 2014 US Supreme Court ruled that voters can prohibit affirmative action in public universities by 6 – 2.

It might just be me but I detect some political bias at play in these decisions or am I just being politically biased.

To return to the Hopwood case, it would seem to me that she fitted the criteria that the system should not ‘harm poor people’ as suggested by Chomsky. I am also intrigued by the description of affirmative action by the National Conference of State Legislatures,

“In institutions of higher education affirmative action refers to admission policies that provide equal access to education for those groups that have been historically excluded or underrepresented, such as women and minorities.” 4

I suspect that that was written after the Hopwood case.

The rational of affirmative action is to create a ‘more equitable and just society for the future’ Chomsky, (p211) and to advance ‘a socially worthy aim’ Sandel (p171); who could argue with these sentiments. But is this what Popper would describe as ‘piecemeal social engineering’ (PSE)? Magee (107) And can PSE be justified on any grounds, some may consider it a close relative to fascism. This may seem rather strong but can manipulation ever be justified.

In recent years countries of Europe have taken a different stance: the UK has a clear policy that any discrimination, quotas, or favouritism is illegal. Sweden passed a law in 2012 that says that all students must face the same requirements for entry. 5 This draws us back to the view of Popper and Magee.

A more equitable society would doubtless benefit everyone. However, in implementing affirmative action was it the hope or intention that the minority candidates would emerge to become ambassadors for their ethnic body.

An alternative view would be that they take the money and run. Will they remain in the

Need we say more?

Need we say more?

neighbourhood – unlikely? If successful are they more likely to move to a nice suburb and join the country club – likely, if they have a wad of dollars. A further alternative view is that Hopwood being female and from a modest background would also understand the concept of barriers and may have become a better, stronger advocate of human rights than her minority counterparts.

Perhaps, all along, the plan was to build a middle class of the minority population and thereby secure the future of the system. A new Praetorian Guard? The World Values Survey study by Ronald Inglehart, suggests that the middle class and working class tend to drift apart on most issues. 6

The drift between the classes is no doubt due in part to income differentials, the gap is growing wider and this gets reflected in the social and educational environment. Which basically means that the poor get crapped on from on high. As a society we are pulling apart and as we do so tension grows. Not just between the rich and poor but also in ethnic terms, it’s the old survival syndrome.

When positing the idea that America could become a color-free country Chomsky sadly admits, “I don’t think it’s going to happen”. (p122) The question is why not? There is no political will to rock the boat of the capitalist system. Politicians may do a lot of tinkering but never advocate a serious shift away from the super rich. Politicians are dominated by the theory of the market but perhaps Ha-Joon Chang can open up a new avenue for exploration:

“The economy is much bigger than the market. We will not be able to build a good economy – or a good society – unless we look at the vast expanse beyond the market” 7

We don’t need the overthrow of the system just a better use of the available resources. Joseph Stiglitz highlights one glaring example of where progress can be made when writing about university entrance “Only around 9% come from the bottom half of the population, while 74% come from the top quarter”. 8 Francis Fukuyama also suggests that education is a key to the future. (p451)

Many writers point to the uncertainty that grows with the gap in inequality. In the long-term democracy may be in danger. Thus making politicians more accountable and responsive to the electorate is crucial for the health of a nation.

The new media, the net and social media can play a significant role in opening a discussion with ordinary Joe. A blog that addresses serious issues in a language that all can access may promote greater participation. This would be enhanced by powerful names being associated with the writing. It may generate an army of opposition but then you know it’s working.

Common good thinkers must come from behind their intellectual retreat and reach out to the citizenry. Otherwise they might wither behind their curtain with their frustration, pipe and slippers.

Do some good join Robin Hood!

  1. Popper Bryan Magee (p103) + (107)
  2. How the World Works (p212) + (122)
  3. Justice What’s the Right Thing to Do? Michael J. Sandel (p167) + (p171)
  4. www.ncsl.org/research/
  5. www.en.m.wikipedia.org
  6. Political Order and Political Decay Francis Fukuyama (p 441) + (451)
  7. Economics: The User’s Guide Ha-Joon Chang (p456)
  8. The Price of Inequality Joseph E. Stiglitz (p24)
  9. www.upoak.com

 

Faith Schools: A Broken Society.

brainwashed-dngg[1]Faith schools are the perpetuation of indoctrination and brainwashing, in essence the control of thinking. This is everything that should be abhorrent to anyone with a liberal mind. But we find that in the name of multiculturalism that liberal minds have abandoned logic so as to subscribe to the adverse dogma of political correctness.

The frenzy that surrounded political correctness is characteristic of a body that had come from the wilderness with the assuredness of divine right; and sought to impose the PC bible, without hesitation, on all. There was no thought of consequence and the pace of imposition gained momentum as acolytes joined the trend.

Of course faith schools have been with us for generations. They were never so much about bringing God to the people as to ensure that the people followed the rule of law. The church had realised that their future was tied to the masters of the day.

However, once the church became powerful it did not demand equality. No, the church ruled as an erstwhile Emperor using the fear of God and the threat of Armageddon to impose its will. The Catholic Church today is still issuing diktats.

Therefore the church was never about –make-love-not-war. It has always been about self-preservation.

In 2011 (there doesn’t seem to be more up to date data) there were 7,000 faith schools broken down thus:

  • 68% Church of England
  • 30% Catholic
  • 12 Muslim
  • 3  Sikh
  • 1  Hindu

A study by the Guardian newspaper in 2010 found social bias whereby lower class kids

No where to go.

No where to go.

were omitted and that faith based schools were increasingly becoming the preserve of the middle classes. Such that in 2013 a Fair Admissions Campaign was launched to demand that children be able to attend a school irrespective of faith.

The Observer newspaper June 2014 carried out a survey and found that 58% of people were against faith schools being funded by the government. This falls in line with other opinion:

“We consider the promotion and public funding of religious schools to be divisive and detrimental to social cohesion”. www.secularism.org.uk/faith-schools.html

The Independent newspaper 2014/12/31 held a story citing Mathew Taylor of the Social Integration Commission (SIC) suggesting that the government was obsessed with faith schools. The conclusion was that it, “breeds social and racial segregation”. Taylor was also quoted as suggesting that consequentially, “Britain’s society would be characterized by ‘ugly’ divisions”.

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/

In March 2015 the Telegraph pulled information from a survey by the SIC of 4,300 people aged 13 – 80. One conclusion was that, “…teenagers emerged as less integrated than young adults”. This drew a further damning statement, “Multiculturalism has effectively gone into reverse”.

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11457650

Faith schools by purpose teach intolerance. They promote their interpretation of the bible/Quran and thus by extension their God as the real one. Thus millions of needy souls are not following the word of God but a contrived version of the bible/Quran.

thVVX2B7D6Most people believe that the church is there to help the neediest and the poorest in our society. Yet it seems that the faith schools walk in the opposite direction. Isn’t it ironic?

“England’s faith schools are on average failing to mirror their local communities by shunning the poorest pupils in their area”.

www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/mar/05/faith-schools-admissions

Thus faith schools are condoning and therefore perpetuating the class system and religious division in the name of God. In the name of God, swallow your ambition and raise us all in the joy of humanity!

Moreover, once lost in a religious fervour one becomes intolerant of others. We are living in the midst of it today in the Middle East, India and Pakistan. The UK has had decades of hell in Northern Ireland where religious divide still dominates political dogma. Over the centuries religious wars have caused the deaths of millions.

A cross on every hill

A star, a marinet

So many graves to fill

O love, aren’t you tired yet?

Leonard Cohen, The Faith, from the album – Dear Heather

I don’t believe that God, (are you there mate?) would condone the actions of the church, any church. Men and their dictatorial tendencies are the true authors of fire and brimstone.preacher-angry[1]

The world cannot grow until men learn how to!