Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Post Full Of Good News

Because good things do happen in this world.  The news we read focuses on the problems, the wars, the epidemics and the suffering.  This is natural and important, but once a problem has been solved, an epidemic conquered or a war ended we don't have a resting period to enjoy that.  Then the next problems, epidemics, wars and types of suffering are presented for our attention.

This is my attempt to provide a little balance.

First, the UN reports that

...the number of children under five who die each year fell by 49 per cent between 1990 and 2013, from 12.7 million to 6.3 million, saving 17,000 lives every day.
"There has been dramatic and accelerating progress in reducing mortality among children, and the data prove that success is possible even for poorly resourced countries," said Mickey Chopra, head of global health programs at the UN Children's Fund, better known as UNICEF.
The report, titled Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2014 and compiled by UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, and the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that the rate for deaths of children under five fell from 90 deaths per 1000 live births in 1990 to 46 in 2013.
Overall, in developing regions, the rate fell from 100 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 50 in 2013, the report said. In rich, developed regions, the rate fell from 15 per 1000 live births in 1990 to six in 2013. In the United States, the decline was somewhat less dramatic, from 11 per 1000 live births in 1990 to seven in 2013.
This is huge.  And wonderful.  More progress is needed, but progress has taken place.

Second, the Raiderettes, the Oakland Raiders cheerleaders, won a lawsuit about their earnings.  They finally get minimum wages for their work!

The two Raiderette cheerleaders who revolted against the team this year—suing the Oakland Raiders for paying them less than minimum wage, withholding paychecks until the end of the season, and never reimbursing them for business expenses—have declared victory. Lacy T. and Sarah G., who filed a class-action suit on behalf of their fellow Raiderettes this spring, have reached a settlement with the NFL franchise. The team will pay out a total of $1.25 million to 90 women who cheered between 2010 and 2013. That translates to an average $6,000 payout per cheerleader per season for the first three seasons covered by the suit, and an average of $2,500 each for the final season. (Right before Lacy’s lawsuit hit, the Raiders unexpectedly padded the 2013 cheerleaders’ checks with additional cash). According to Sharon Vinick, lawyer for the Raiderettes, future Raider cheerleaders will be paid minimum wage for all hours worked, receive checks every two weeks, and be reimbursed for business expenses they incur in the course of the job. 
Similar suits have been filed against the Bengals, Bills, Jets and Buccaneers.  What's so very grating about the way these cheerleaders are being paid is the contrast to the very affluent teams and the size of the paychecks they otherwise dispense.  Another lesson to note is that the small specks in the market which are individual workers cannot, all on their own, negotiate work contracts with powerful behemoths on the other side of the market, the way conservatives seem to think wage negotiations work.

Third, it's good to remember, given the recent revelations about intimate partner violence and family violence in the NFL, that US statistics suggest intimate partner violence has been getting less common over time:

From 1994 to 2011, the rate of serious intimate partner violence declined 72% for females and 64% for males.
Statistics on sexual violence can be difficult to interpret when many victims don't report crimes etc., but reporting probably has not become less frequent during the last two decades.  This suggests to me that the trend is in the right direction.  Even the very widespread and sometimes acrimonious discussions we have about intimate partner violence today are a sign of that change.  It was the silence in the past which allowed us to remain ignorant about the true extent of intimate partner violence and domestic violence.