Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Work Til You Drop

The LA Times reported today that the United States is the only "advanced economy" that does not require paid vacation for employees.

The average number of paid vacations days per year provided to American workers in the private sector, which is 16, would not meet the minimum number of paid vacation days required by law in 19 countries.

Low-wage workers and employees working for small businesses are affected most by the lack of paid time off.

The study reported that Norway and France legally require as many as 30 paid vacation days, and many other European countries guarantee their workers at least 20 paid vacation days per year. Canada and Japan guarantee at least 10 paid vacation days per year.

South Korea has the fastest declining working time in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and now, in the last decade, has moved to require mandatory forty-hour, five day working weeks for everyone, starting with companies with over 1000 employees in 2004, gradually including smaller and smaller businesses until everyone was included in 2011. The government has continuously increased public holidays to 16 days in 2013, more than the 10 days of the United States.

In a hierarchical society such as the United States, when we are pushed to climb the ladder and rise above everyone else, and produce more and more profits, quality of life is often put on the back burner.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Violence and Tragedy with a Different View

Because of the real-life devastation that tornados caused in Oklahoma yesterday, CBS decided to postpone the finale of the sitcom “Mike & Molly,” which dealt with a tornado hitting Chicago.

Following the mass shootings in a premiere showing in Aurora, Warner Bros., the distributor of the violent movie “The Dark Knight Rises," canceled gala premieres in Paris, Mexico and Japan, and some television advertisements. The company instructed cinemas to stop showing a trailer for a film “Gangster Squad” which preceded “The Dark Knight Rises” screenings in some cities because it contained a scene involving the main characters shooting at a movie theater audience with machine guns.

Why are disastrous and violent events entertaining to so much of the American public, when if they happen in real life, we think of them as tragic? Have we separated ourselves into different groups on hierarchies to such an extent that as long as tragedy and violence is happening to someone else, we don’t feel their pain, and enjoy watching them suffer and/or die?

What if we, for a week, imagined that every violent and unkind act we see on TV or in the movies were happening to us or to our sister, brother, mother, father, son, daughter, partner, friend. Would we find it entertaining to watch such pain and suffering by ourselves or someone we love? Would that exercise help us to overcome the divides that hierarchies have caused, and instead, build the community that our country craves?


Monday, May 13, 2013

No Clue about Same-Sex Marriage

The Gallop poll published its most recent survey showing that 53% of Americans say same-sex marriages should be legally recognized, the third consecutive 50% or above in Gallup polling over the past year. The poll also found that 45% think that same-sex marriage should not be valid.

We invite you to read further in the article for interesting data about answers to the question, "What is your impression of how most Americans feel about same-sex marriage – do you think that most Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage or opposed to same-sex marriage?"

Liberals and Democrats – those who tend to either be in lower groups or see the detrimental effects of hierarchies  – supplied answers that were close to actual reality. Liberals said 48% opposed, 47% in favor, while Democrats said 43% opposed, 52% in favor.

In a sharp contrast, Republicans and Conservatives – who tend to either be in higher groups who benefit from hierarchies and tend to ignore their detrimental effects  – were way off from reality.  Republicans predicted that 18% were in favor of same-sex marriage, while 77% were opposed; Conservatives predicted 16% in favor, 78% opposed.

Another indication that people who want to conservative hierarchies are clueless at the top; they can't or won't see what's happening.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Climate Change for the Military

The military is receiving directives from Obama and Hagel to formulate methods to assess commanders and hold them accountable for creating a climate "of dignity and respect."  Hagel says that the Department of Defense needs to be a national leader in combating sexual assault and to establish an environment of dignity and respect, where sexual assault is not tolerated, condoned or ignored.

We hope they focus on male members of the military and their male culture, as that change will be a monumental step forward. If so, the military could become a national leader in focusing on the real root of the problem.

Before now, most of the proposals to "solve" sexual assault problems in the military have focused on the women - supporting the women who have been assaulted, training women to protect themselves.  This is the same attitude common with civilian rape crisis/sexual assault centers that support women while the male culture refuses to take responsibility even though they continually cause the problem. Obviously that didn't work for the military (and doesn't work with civilians either) because the top (men) continues to avoid accountablity and the lower group (women), who do not create the problem and can't solve it, have to take responsibility to "clean up" as best they can after the top.

The military can step up and become role models for making cultural changes that really stop sexual assault. We hope they succeed.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hierarchies Affect Bullying

Sociologists Diane Felmiee and Robert Faris have studied bullying in high school and have concluded that hierarchies affect how students behave.

Their research shows that many students are involved in "social combat" -- a constant verbal, physical and cyber fight to the top of the school social hierarchy. They found that bullies, whom they call aggressors, and victims are not defined roles, but in many cases, they can be the same person. The higher students rise on the social ladder, the more they bully other students, and the more other students bully them.

"Family background of kids does not really seem to matter in their aggressive behavior. Instead, what really matters is where they are located in the school hierarchy," Faris said.

“Aggression is intrinsic to status and escalates with increases in peer status until the pinnacle of the social hierarchy is attained,” it says. “Over time, individuals at the very bottom and those at the very top of a hierarchy become the least aggressive youth.”