Labor unions in the United States are both more and less popular than people tend to believe. Confusing? It sure is. I spend a lot of time thinking about labor in the United States, and around the world. What will the future look like? Will there be more worker organization, or less? And how do Americans feel about unions, anyway? I wanted to see what data existed, and sure enough, Gallup has some long-term polling on American attitudes toward labor unions.
Transgender people have been in the spotlight quite a bit lately, and not always for positive reasons. Whatever one thinks of recent developments, it is evident that the landscape of gender is changing. We don’t know what it will look like in the future, but a peek at what’s happening in the present might help. When most people think of transgender, they might think of someone like Caitlyn Jenner: born with a male body, grew up and identified as a man for most of her life, and eventually transitioned to living as a woman full-time.
Is it class? Is it race? Is it something else? What’s at the root of Americans’ identities and political divisions? This line of thinking spun out from a discussion of Us Against Them, which I have yet to read (though it sounds fascinating), as well as conversations with others on similar topics. Matthew Yglesias offers a good overview, from back in 2012: The No. 1 book about American politics that I wish more people would read is Donald Kinder and Cindy Cam, [_US Versus Them: The Ethnocentric Foundations of American Public Opinion_](http://www.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) which made clear to me the level of frustration a lot of people have experienced with it. It also helped me realize how poor our health coverage options are, in general. The marketplace plans available to single young people with modest incomes bring either large premiums or large deductibles, running up an overall expense that can be several thousand dollars a year.
It’s time to cap off this week of posts about the Internet, with a broader discussion of the Internet’s capacity for promoting change. Yesterday, I talked about the Internet’s role in American politics, though I didn’t spend much time on how it has affected social change more generally. There are movements happening all around us that are only effective because the Internet is an available tool. The Arab Spring, for instance, unfolded in large part due to online communication and organization.
Might as well stick with an Internet theme for the week. Today: making the Internet more accessible to people with disabilities. I recently went about searching for housing assistance for a friend. To that end, I went down the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s list of New Jersey housing agencies. First, I was disappointed that one had to check so many websites just to find out if any public or subsidized housing was available in this state.
You heard me! First, some qualification: this is primarily about the Internet as used in America, in the English language. Things may be different in other places and in other languages. I am not familiar with them. I’ve been a regular Internet user since 1996. I had some prior experiences with Prodigy’s Internet service in the early 1990s, but it hardly counts since all I did was play MadMaze. It was in 1996 that I got my first real exposure to the Internet as a social phenomenon.
Time to tackle another construct: the different ways men and women communicate with one another. As is typical when I write about issues of social constructs that involve power disparities, privilege, and oppression, my words are aimed primarily at guys like myself: straight white men. I would not presume to explain these issues to women–they are already well aware. Getting right to the point: there is a major difference in how men and women communicate and conduct themselves in mixed-gender venues, almost regardless of context.
Sometimes I wonder if I stray too far from the core purpose of this blog which is, after all, examining the “resilient constructs” we encounter in our lives. But this is a topic that, I think, drives at the heart of what this blog is about. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. There are a number of reasons for this, but the simple explanation is that, as a culture, we have a more punitive view of human behavior.
Tax evasion: what was once a mark of shame has endured so long it’s become boring. Commonplace. Business as usual. The Panama Papers have opened the latest chapter in this story. Detailing the dealings of Panamanian financial services firm Mossack Fonseca, the Papers don’t describe anything particularly unusual or novel, and that’s the real tragedy. This is normal. It’s normal for people with massive amounts of wealth to hide it in tiny little countries around the world just so they can avoid giving up a slice of it that they wouldn’t even miss.