Thursday, March 01, 2018

Short Posts 3/1/18: On Authoritarianism, Elections, Anti-Semitism, And Pay Differentials Between Men And Women

1.  Authoritarianism is the new-old fashion in politics:

The surprise disclosure on Sunday that the Communist Party was abolishing constitutional limits on presidential terms — effectively allowing President Xi Jinping to lead China indefinitely — was the latest and arguably most significant sign of the world’s decisive tilt toward authoritarian governance, often built on the highly personalized exercise of power.
The list includes Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, all of whom have abandoned most pretenses that they rule according to the people’s will. Authoritarianism is also reappearing in places like Hungary and Poland that barely a quarter-century ago shook loose the shackles of Soviet oppression.
There are many reasons for such moves by Mr. Xi and others — including protecting their power and perks in an age of unrest, terrorism and war amplified by new technologies — but a significant one is that few countries have the standing or authority, morally or otherwise, to speak out — least of all, critics say, the United States.

Warlords everywhere.  And the current president of the United States no longer supports those universal human values Eleanor Roosevelt helped to create in 1948.  He wants to be the Greatest, Biggest Warlord ever.  With the prettiest ponies.

This is not quite as depressing as it sounds, because it's possible to fight the disease once it is diagnosed.  The alternative is to take the lead of the Taoist thinkers and spend the rest of our lives watching fishes make circles on water or goddessing.

2.  Because the rise in authoritarianism means a decline in democracy, fighting for democracy everywhere is imperative.  In the United States this includes paying a liiitle bit of attention to fair and transparent elections:

Nearly 16 months after the presidential election, and more than eight months before the critical midterms, many state and federal officials are convinced the Russians will be back. They're concerned that 2016 was laying the groundwork for a possible future attack.
These first two dismal points highlight the importance of wresting the control of the government away from those who don't like democracy.  We can do it!

3.  Louis Farrakhan has re-emerged.  He gave a very long speech, available on YouTube, and in it he still expressed his great hatred of the Jewish people*. 

It's not just the far right which today expresses anti-Semitism, in other words.  We should condemn such statements wherever they come from, just as we should condemn sexism and racism, say,  even when they are expressed by demographic groups otherwise severely oppressed, and just as we should criticize all religions for their possible misogyny, not just, say, American fundamentalist sects. 

4.  The Brits are talking about the gender wage gap because now information on the gap inside large firms is available.   While the reasons for the gap in earnings between men and women are many, lack of information about what others earn certainly makes it hard to do anything about the gap.  A culture of silence about earnings benefits the firms who can continue paying some groups less.

So finding that the guy in the next cubicle makes a lot more even though he has a lot less experience and education can, indeed, be rage-inducing, as the article states.

I found the differences in bonus payments especially interesting.  How are bonuses determined?  Are the grounds subjective or objective?  Does an employee have to negotiate for a bonus, specifically?  And if so, how does that work out for women when we know from studies that negotiating might backfire for them?

5.  After scanning through my post I depress myself!  My apologies for that.  I have edamame beans.  What is the best way of eating them?


*  He also expressed religious reservations about LGBT rights, suggested that someone is altering marijuana to make men of African ancestry "soft," and gave a nod to one of the founders of the Women's Marches (who was present at the speech), while also telling women to cook healthier meals for their husbands so that obesity is avoided.