Category: Class & Stratification

Neoliberalism and Inequality: A Recipe for Interpersonal Violence?

(If you are interested in this post, please see my earlier post on neoliberalism) Based on recent research, there appears to be a link between the ideals of neoliberalism and increasing rates of inequality. Navarro (1998) argues, for instance, that neoliberal policies have contributed to growing inequalities around the globe and to worsening living conditions for the majority of the world’s people. For her part, George (1999) agrees and blames increasing inequality on the common neoliberal practices of placing public...

Marriage and “A Fair Shot”

I found the following quote from one of Obama’s speeches on his campaign website: “We are greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules.” After reading this quote, I wondered if the discourse of “a fair shot” is a useful way to put forth a political agenda.  On one hand, this is a standard...

“Life Isn’t Always Fair”: Mayor Bloomberg on Alleged Racial Discrimination in NYC Elite Schools

New York City is a city characterized by its diversity and multiculturalism. Some of the U.S.’s largest populations of racial and ethnic minorities live within the city limits. And yet, in many ways, NYC continues to drop the ball when it comes to truly integrating its diverse population. A recent example illustrates this problem. The NAACP recently filed a federal civil rights complaint, stating that the city’s elite public schools, like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, have accepted far too few...

Kansas City Getting Wired: Google Fiber and the Digital Divide

Google is a behemoth of an organization. Most everyone is familiar with its search engine (to the point where “Google” is a now a verb), and of the top 25 most-visited web sites in the world 6 are Google-branded, including YouTube. The company makes much of its money by selling targeted advertisements through its AdWords service, and has been wildly successful doing so. But Google has been busy with some interesting projects that fall outside its traditional role as search...

Yes, You Are a Statistic

I can no longer stomach certain clichés.  Last night at the Democratic National Convention, I heard one of these.  A university student, who introduced Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice-President, noted that she “shouldn’t be here” and was “almost a statistic.”  My immediate response, to my computer screen, was “You still are a statistic and you don’t understand what statistics are.”  I know that she was just rehashing a cliché, but it is a cliché that privileges “self-help culture”...

Sustainability, social progress, environmental protection, economic growth and energy

Sustainability, social progress, environmental protection, economic growth and energy are discussed using the sustainability framework in Figure 1, where sustainability is at the confluence of social progress, environmental protection and economic growth. Figure 1 Sustainability framework (Source: IUCN 2006) There are designs being made toward Ecological Civilization and welcome moves to address the shortcomings of GDP in Completing the picture – environmental accounting in practice by the Australian Bureau of Statistics .  Extending the national accounts to include degradation of natural resources makes a measurable target...

The Political Value of Welfare

One of the latest Romney ads attacks President Obama for removing work provisions from Welfare Reform.  In the ad, disappointed-in-himself Obama (pictured left) sneakily gutted welfare reform by dropping the work requirements, so that as the ad states, “They just send you your welfare check.”  The ad’s claims are false or, as the fact-checking website Politifact put it, pants-on-fire.  What Obama has actually done is allow states to develop their own welfare-to-work programs.  The changes provide states with some flexibility regarding...

Culture, Nationalism and "Inferior" Peoples

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s recent overseas tour didn’t go well according to most in the press.  The British press, in particular, blasted Romney for his comments regarding Britain’s preparedness for the Olympics.  Then, Romney went to Israel.  There he avoided offending his hosts but managed to offend Palestinians and some other nations while he was at it. Romney said that, “Culture makes all the difference,” as he compared the GDP per capita of Israel to “areas managed by the Palestinian...

"Deserving" and "Undeserving" Welfare

Over a decade since the 1996 welfare reform bill, welfare is in the news again.  The latest controversy is over laws that seek to limit what welfare recipients can spend money on.  This comes shortly after state legislatures passed laws to require drug testing of welfare recipients.  These new laws are not a direct attack on what remains of anti-poverty programs in America.  Instead, these initiatives allow for both a deserving and an undeserving poor.  A moral evaluation of the...

Battle Hymn of the Steriotype Mother

I’ve been meaning to do a blog on Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (BHTM) by Amy Chua for the past year, but to be honest I was hoping to stay above the fray.  Alas, time has come to add my two cents into the blogosphere….                       BHTM is “a satirical memoir” (p. 234) by Yale law professor Amy Chua, which chronicles her adventures in raising her half-Jewish, half-Chinese daughters...

Local Level Immigration Control: A Necessity or a Justification for Discrimination?

On May 10th, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County.  The suit alleges that the man who claims to be “America’s toughest sheriff” has propagated a culture of discrimination against Hispanics and Latinos during his time in office.  More specifically, it is argued in the lawsuit that Arpaio’s office has consistently permitted the violation of the civil rights of Hispanics and Latinos in its quest to crackdown on illegal immigration.  It...

Austerity and the Double-Movement

After the French elected Socialist Francois Hollande in a rebuke of austerity policies gripping Europe, news headlines issued reports of worried markets.  The fear, among some, is that the new president would act in such a way, or more precisely that the public was acting in such a way that, would spook markets.  Some economists, most notably Princeton professor and Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman, have argued against austerity in favor of government stimulus to push economic demand and growth. ...

Some critical thoughts about "critical thinking"

The two professors sat in front of me, making conversation before the talk. The speaker’s title slide already projected on the wall ahead: “What (if anything) are undergraduates learning during college?” The professors laughed at just how apt they thought the title was: “Isn’t that right?” “Yes, anything, please!” And then the more senior faculty member, a female, returned with a comment that made her junior colleague bristle: “Especially the boys. Some of those boys just try to get by...

Social Class: Income, Wealth, and Race

Lately there has been a lot of talk about class, and not just the vague election year pandering to the vague demographic of the “middle class.”  Instead, the very concept of class has become a subject of debate.  Last time, I focused on Mitt Romney’s comment’s about “people who have fallen out of the middle class.”  This time I focus on fellow candidate Rick Santorum’s criticism of Romney for using the word class.  Here’s what Santorum said: “There are no...

Middle-Class Poverty

“Somebody who’s fallen from the middle class to poverty, in my opinion is still middle class.”  Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate, made this statement on a talk show a few weeks ago.   Bloggers ridiculed the comment as nonsensical.  I admit I too was tempted to just call Romney an idiot (again) and move on.  But, as I’ve been watching politicians in a society of growing inequality and high unemployment struggle with the concept of class while desperately trying not to...