Friday, May 27, 2011

U.S. – Cheap Labor for the World

Slumming in the U.S. is fast becoming a business model for some European countries, and they often exhibit labor practices here that they would never think of doing at home. So move over China - U.S. labor costs may be a little higher, but the U.S. offers stronger intellectual property protections and far fewer strikes than in China.

"America as the beacon for the workers of the world? No more. If anything, our relationship with Europe has become a latter-day version of the one that characterized the years leading up to the Civil War, when our Southern states provided cheap, slave-produced cotton. . . Once again, we're where Europe comes to slum - in the low-wage factories of the South and the run-down houses of South Los Angeles. . . These companies increasingly come to America because labor is cheap and workers have no rights."

Article in the Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2011:

Information from articles like above and other data sources (such as the book The Spirit Level) illustrate how when we think we are #1 on top of our world hierarchy, we are clueless to what is obvious to everyone else.

The United States has many wonderful qualities, but we also have many problems that can't be solved until we let go of our top-of-the hierarchy limited and unrealistic view of ourselves in our world, and stop allowing people who want to build hierarchies to continue to make decisions that affect our wealth distribution and workplaces.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pleasant Dreams

From a former position low on our hierarchies, animals are moving up.

Our local newspaper reported that nearly half (48%) of people who live with dogs have their dogs sleep in the bed with them.

Both of us love having our cats and dogs sleep with us. When we were growing up, our cats and dogs stayed out in the garage, except when our mom was not at home and we snuck them in to be with us. What a change in one generation concerning how many people feel about the animals in their families.

The human-animal hierarchy has weakened so much in the recent decades. Even though we still have way too much animal abuse and mistreatment, we're moving in the right direction.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Go Vermont !!

The nation's major health insurers are into a third year of record profits. Thank goodness for the people in Vermont. They have decided to step out of the health care hierarchy that predictably channels riches to the top.

Instead they are creating another system of health care in their state that takes into account the needs for all their citizens with a single-payer type approach. We hope our home state of Oregon is the second to look seriously into a more equitable and fair system that benefits everyone, not just those at the top.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dalai Lama Advice

"The change in human society must start with the individual," the Dalai Lama said recently at the Newark Peace Education Summit.

When we look at the inequality and lack of fairness in the world, it's easy to feel unempowered to make change. Each of us, however, can change ourselves and what is in our sphere of influence. We do have control over what we think, do, and say.

Since our hierarchies are at the root of the problems in our world, we DO make a difference when we weaken or leave hierarchies in our own lives. Each of us can take plenty of empowering, rewarding steps, and feel good that we are contributing to the collective transformation of the world.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If Doctors were Treated Like Teachers

We are delighted to see this article that shows how effective role reversals can be to reveal elusive hierarchies. Take a look to discover what would happen if teachers were treated like medical doctors! Since the two of us are teachers, this article was especially appealing, and we laughed out loud at #9.

Freedom off the Top

For most of our lives, the two of us have been glad to be female. Yes, we may not have had access to some advantages that top-of-the-gender-hierarchy males have. But wow, we have had so many more options as to what we can be, what we know, and how we act because we are in the lower group.

The recent furor about the J. Crew president's young son painting his toenails pink follows predictable rules in hierarchyland. Whatever applies to lower groups are specific only to that group and is demeaning for the upper group (i.e., no pink for boys, only for girls), but we know that what applies to higher groups is considered to be universal (i.e., blue is fine for boys or girls).

No one seems to argue that for little girls and their parents, there are healthy choices across gender lines - ultra-feminine toys and activities, along with an ever-growing range of "tomboy" sports options and other pursuits that in the past were mostly the domain of boys. But conservatives warn that boys could be hurt for life if exposed to what is considered appropriate for girls.

Quotes from NPR article (link below) underscore these rules. "For girls nowadays, it's OK to play with boys' toys, dress like boys, talk like them — it's often encouraged," said Isabelle Cherney, a Creighton University psychologist. "Boys have to walk a much finer line, and their fathers tend to be more stereotyped, telling them not to deviate from what's typically seen as masculine."

"The norms of femininity have expanded much more than the norms for masculinity — a lot more androgyny is allowed for girls," said Judith Stacey, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. "With boys, it's not seen as OK to wear skirts, play with princesses' wands," she said. "There's still a lot of anxiety about being sufficiently masculine."

NPR's "Gender Stereotypes Easing More for Girls Than Boys" (May
11, 2011)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Uncontrolled at the Top

Women disappearing in thin air – such as the removal by Brooklyn Hasidic Jewish newspapers of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security staff member Audrey Tomason from the picture of the White House Osama Bin Laden situation room. These orthodox Jewish newspapers insist that these pictures of women would be too sexually suggestive to men.

We owe a lot of our foremothers who worked hard to stop women from being blamed for men's inability to control their sexual urges. Those of us who are old enough remember when it was common for a woman to be blamed for being raped.

For many many years, men have used religion to keep their position on top of their hierarchies. That position allows them to assign responsibility of those on the bottom to change their lives (in this case Hillary and Audrey need to be absent) when those at the top do not want to be held accountable for their own actions (men being reasonable and responsible about their sexual urges).

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Top Always Benefits

CEO’s in the nation’s largest companies are being paid better now than they were in 2007 when the economy was booming, when the stock market set a record high, and unemployment was about half what it is today, according to Associated Press. The typical pay package for the head of a company was $9 million, a 24% increase over last year. The typical worker made less than half of 1 percent of what the typical CEO made.

The biggest gains came in cash bonuses: two-thirds of executives got a bigger one than they had in 2009, some more than three times as big – money that could be used to create jobs for those people whose lives have actually been harmed by the recession.

This trend shows that our hierarchies are becoming more unstable. The top continues to send more resources their way, while passing down less and less resources to keep the lower groups believing the top has their interests in mind.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our World Hierarchy is Outdated

Osama bin Laden is dead. Is it time for the United States to stop trying to police the world, to give up on keeping ourselves on the top of the world hierarchy we create and sustain? Just like in any hierarchy, being on top has its advantages but many, many disadvantages.

Our resources are needed internally, for our health and happiness. Our schools need improving, as well as our transportation infrastructure and the quality of life and security for seniors. We need a fair tax system in which rich people and corporations pay their share, and jobs need to stay home.

Like they say on airplanes, we must first make sure we put on our oxygen masks before we help others in need. Now is the time to look inward before we have nothing else to give others.