Sunday Commentary: Racial Prejudice – A Dark Stench That Remains Over This Nation

Obama-racial-prejudice

Four years ago was a time of hope and change amid an economic crisis that came far closer, than most wanted to imagine or believe, to bringing down the entire western financial markets.  In the middle of that crisis was the election of the nation’s first African-American President.

Experts were quick to warn that this did not necessarily end the days of racial prejudice against blacks.  Indeed, four years later, the on-the-ground circumstances facing many are even more bleak than they were before.

But for the public it was the time of hope that, if we could elect a black President, maybe the other hurdles we faced in this nation could also be overcome.

These concerns about other hurdles are now borne out by an Associated Press story, reporting on an AP Poll which found that “racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president…, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.”

The AP continues, “Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.”

51 percent of those polled expressed explicitly anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a 2008 survey.

These findings come as a blow to those who believed, or at least hoped, that racial prejudice was, if not a thing of the past, at least on the wane.

Worse yet, the implicit racial attitudes test is even more concerning as “anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.”

“As much as we’d hope the impact of race would decline over time … it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago,” said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.

As a former political scientist, I am well aware of the work that Professor Krosnick (whom I worked under in the summer of 2005) and others have done on this issue.

Political scientists and psychologists have long believed that there are two types of racial prejudice.  The first is the explicit type which measures the level to which people dislike the group and support prejudicial policies.  The problem with the explicit measure is that political correctness perhaps undermines people’s willingness to express such views.

So researchers have attempted to create another battery of questions to tap into an underlying racial prejudice that impacts people’s policy positions but is not explicitly expressed.

As one might imagine, at least in the past, there were some problems with those measures as some conflated with political conservatism.  For instance, if one opposes Affirmative Action, is it because they dislike African-Americans, or is it because they are a conservative who does not wish the government to attempt to counter-balance traditional racial prejudice with what they see as reverse discrimination?

However, to their credit, most researchers recognized that problem and have corrected for it.

The AP surveys were conducted with researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago.

The findings did not surprise most researchers.

“We have this false idea that there is uniformity in progress and that things change in one big step. That is not the way history has worked,” said Jelani Cobb, professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut. “When we’ve seen progress, we’ve also seen backlash.”

The AP reports, “Obama himself has tread cautiously on the subject of race, but many African-Americans have talked openly about perceived antagonism toward them since Obama took office. As evidence, they point to events involving police brutality or cite bumper stickers, cartoons and protest posters that mock the president as a lion or a monkey, or lynch him in effigy.”

Many are concerned that things like the birther movement are thinly-disguised racial prejudice .  This is a message that is unfortunately reinforced when Mitt Romney makes the comment, “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised,” he said.

The question I think most people need to ask is: why is that a good thing?

“Part of it is growing polarization within American society,” said Fredrick Harris, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. “The last Democrat in the White House said we had to have a national discussion about race. There’s been total silence around issues of race with this president. But, as you see, whether there is silence, or an elevation of the discussion of race, you still have polarization. It will take more generations, I suspect, before we eliminate these deep feelings.”

The survey finds that there is probably a net loss of 2 percentage points to President Obama due to anti-black attitudes.  One of the questions is whether this is manifesting itself in the current polls.

That net loss is more complex, with five percentage points lost by President Obama partly offset by a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said.

“The Associated Press developed the surveys to measure sensitive racial views in several ways and repeated those studies several times between 2008 and 2012,” the report continues.

The explicit racial prejudice measures asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about black and Hispanic people. In addition, the surveys asked how well respondent thought certain words, such as “friendly,” ”hardworking,” ”violent” and “lazy,” described blacks, whites and Hispanics.

According to the paper, co-authored by Josh Pasek of the University of Michigan, Jon Krosnick from Stanford and Trevor Tompson from NORC at the University of Chicago, “Implicit racial attitudes were measured using the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP). Respondents saw a series of Chinese ideographs, one at a time, and assigned each one to one of two categories, more pleasant and less pleasant, placing approximately half of the ideographs in each.”

The belief is that those who have favorable feelings toward the face will be more likely to label it as pleasant and the converse is also true, with people who have unfavorable feelings toward the face being more likely to label it as unpleasant.

One of the more interesting things from my perspective, however, is the local level.

I have long warned in Davis that racial animus is a good deal more prevalent than commonly perceived.  Indeed, a few years ago a survey was taken of citizens that showed a large number in the minority community felt racial discrimination in their dealing with local business.

While Davis has long been viewed as a predominantly white community, the minority community – particularly Asians and Latinos –  has grown tremendously.  A few weeks ago we noted that in the last two decades the percentage of students in Davis schools who are white fell from 72 percent down to 57 percent.

And while that number is still a good deal higher than in adjacent communities and the state, all of which are minority-majority (a population composed of less than 50% non-Hispanic whites), it figures to change not only composition of residency in this community, but also the power structure, which figures to produce more tensions.

There is a perception by some that racial prejudice is more prevalent on the right than the left.  However, I have longed believed that there is a group of liberals who are just as prejudiced.

Oh, they will happily vote for President Obama, liberal causes, they will even advocate for minorities, but they go home at night and live in their safe suburban white communities with a low crime rate and enact policies to keep their communities that way.

Here is where the implicit test becomes important and it appears (it has been seven years since I last really studied the literature on racial attitudes) that political scientists have fixed the conflation between the implicit measures and political conservatism, focusing on affective responses to photos rather than attitudes imbedded into otherwise ambiguous policy preferences.

The poll finds that using the explicit measure, Republicans were far more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racial prejudice. An alarming 79 percent of Republicans, compared with 32 percent of Democrats, expressed explicit racial preferences.

The implicit test showed that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).

The bottom line is that, despite policy preferences that would seem to indicate less prejudice by liberals, there is really not much difference between Democrats and Republicans in this regard.

This explains what I have observed in Davis. The general public was very willing to vote for President Obama but relatively unwilling to deal with racial prejudice on the home front, either insulating themselves from it or ignoring it.

However, demographic information suggests that Davis will not be able to insulate itself indefinitely.  Already, between the increased percentage of minorities in school and the larger percentage of minorities on campus, there is increasingly a clash.

The business survey is instructive because it demonstrates empirically what we have long noted anecdotally – many minority students are uncomfortable going to Davis businesses and interacting with the community.

Clearly, this is an issue that is not nearly as far gone as some want to believe.  The question is what the public is willing to do to deal with it.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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63 Comments

  1. Phil Coleman

    I can’t recall anybody saying that the past election would “end the days of racial prejudice.” It was a positive step, sure, but prejudice in any form has a way of persistence and linger for all time,in all peoples.

    Prejudice is depicted here, and elsewhere, as something negative. But a bias towards a person or thing based on no experience or reason is not necessarily negative. Indeed, prejudice is neutral in its definition,if not its application.

    In that light, if we are measuring the voting patterns of Americans based on the ethnicity of the candidate, fairness calls for all Americans to be measured. Measuring a select group is, well, prejudiced.

    African-Americans voted in extremely high percentages for President Obama. The likelihood is that pattern will be found again in this election. In fact, it’s a certainty.

    Is this also a prejudicial voter pattern? Of course it is, and defenders will say it is the legitimate expression of a a historically disenfranchised element gaining political power not seen before. Very laudable, perhaps, but a reflection of racial bias in voting by something other than white folk.

  2. medwoman

    [quote]Is this also a prejudicial voter pattern? Of course it is, and defenders will say it is the legitimate expression of a a historically disenfranchised element gaining political power not seen before. Very laudable, perhaps, but a reflection of racial bias in voting by something other than white folk.[/quote]

    And David also pointed this out by including the following observation:

    [quote]That net loss is more complex with five percentage points lost by President Obama partly off-set by a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said.[/quote]

    Yes, there is both pro white and pro black sentiment in individuals, our town, our state, and our country. I think one only has to look around to see which sentiment has had the greater impact on our society in terms of economics, education, opportunity and social well being to date.

  3. David M. Greenwald

    “One thing about polls and data….garbage in….garbage out”

    Having worked with Kronick, I’ll go with him over you any day. Just saying. I don’t evidence of garbage on either end of this, I suspect you just don’t like the findings.

  4. rusty49

    You don’t evidence the garbage because it goes right in line with your beliefs. Racism is a cottage industry. Luckily more and more of America is growing tired of the beaten into the ground rhetoric. But you’re right, I don’t have to paticipate. Adios for today.
    Go Giants!!!!

  5. David M. Greenwald

    I’m still waiting for you to actually make a substantive critique – if it’s garbage you should be able to identify the points where the research is flawed, instead you’ve made two assertions and some snide remarks.

  6. medwoman

    For those who believe that racism is not a factor today or that it is a factor, but only for fringe extremists, I would call to your attention
    John Sununu’s very publicly expressed opinion that the reason that Colin Powell endorsed President Obama was their shared ethnicity.

  7. Mr Obvious

    [quote]For those who believe that racism is not a factor today or that it is a factor, but only for fringe extremists, I would call to your attention
    John Sununu’s very publicly expressed opinion that the reason that Colin Powell endorsed President Obama was their shared ethnicity.[/quote]

    You can’t simply dismiss the assertion. About 95% of blacks voted for Obama. There is not logical argument other than race to get to 95% of blacks to voting for Obama.

  8. David M. Greenwald

    “There is not logical argument other than race to get to 95% of blacks to voting for Obama. “

    Except that its in the range as to how blacks in general vote for Democrats in general. That said, clearly particularly in 2008, blacks were excited to vote for Obama and did so in larger numbers.

    Now that being said, you have an electorate that is pretty polarized. Whites modestly vote for Republicans, Blacks, Hispanics, heavily vote for Democrats. Asians increasingly have voted Democratic as well.

    Now here’s the question – are these groups voting because of their race or because they share other demographic characteristics? I suspect more of the latter than the former.

  9. mikefitz2010

    A few observations.
    1)David when you write about these studies it would be helpful to provide links to them so readers can review, and criticize (if inclined) for themselves. The exchange about garbage in garbage out is pretty nonsensical without both sides being able to evaluate.
    2)As I remember it there was some optimism about race in the euphoria of Obama’s election, but most commentators cautioned about expectations once things calmed down.
    3)Actually I am not surprised by the results of the study, though for a different reason that may suggest some fluidity (a small amount)in our racial attitudes. During economic hard times people tend to have more negative attitudes about other groups, as competition/”conflict” for resources increases.

  10. medwoman

    Mr. O

    [quote]You can’t simply dismiss the assertion. About 95% of blacks voted for Obama. There is not logical argument other than race to get to 95% of blacks to voting for Obama.[/quote]

    If you have read all my posts on this thread, you will see that I have not dismissed any assertion. I merely pointed out that given the widespread nature of racial prejudice of various degrees and manifestations, within our society it would appear that darker skinned individuals seem to have been less economically and socially advantaged historically by prejudice than have lighter skinned individuals. If you have evidence to the contrary, I would be happy to consider it.

  11. J.R.

    [quote] darker skinned individuals seem to have been less economically and socially advantaged historically by prejudice than have lighter skinned individuals. If you have evidence to the contrary, I would be happy to consider it.[/quote]

    Okay, then why don’t you consider this list of income by ethnic groups, which shows that the highest earning ethnic groups are not the “lighter skinned”, as you put it.

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_the_United_States_by_household_income[/url]

  12. Don Shor

    I fixed it; for some reason the URL needed a space.
    Interesting that there is no ‘Anglo’ or similar designation. I’m not familiar with ‘American’ ethnicity, so I clicked on the link and find that it is self-identified and that “Declaring “American” ancestry is most common among Southerners.”

  13. SouthofDavis

    Rusty wrote:

    > This gets so tiring……….

    David wrote:

    > Except that its in the range as to how blacks
    > in general vote for Democrats in general. That
    > said, clearly particularly in 2008, blacks were
    > excited to vote for Obama and did so in larger
    > numbers.

    Rusty does not understand that David likes making posts about racist white people. It never seems to get old or tiring and he can’t wait to find yet another topic to point out how enlightened he is for pointing out that racism is the reason (and the only reason) that blacks have any problems. Facts like in the last 50 years 95% of whites have never voted for the white guy in a major mixed race competitive race don’t seem to bother him and he will continue to post that whites are racist, but blacks are not even if they tell him that they will never vote for a honkey.

    Here are some blog posts ideas for David (that rusty can ignore):

    Racist Davis Residents elect (yet another) white Mayor
    Racism is the reason (and the only reason) that most of the Davis High Ski team is not black.
    Most business in town owned by whites, racism is the reason.
    Why does Don not have many black employees? Does he pretend to be left leaning on the Vanguard site to cover up for his racism?

    Bottom line is that there will always be some racist whites and some racist black (and racists of every color). Davis has a lot less racists of any color and there are places (like Richmond’s Iron Triangle) where you are very likely to find a black racist and places (like the little town I can’t remember the name of west of Jackson, MS) where you are likely to find a white racist).

    I’ll let rusty ignore the posts but I’ll continue to post in the hope that David will think about why he likes to look at anything that shows blacks (or other people of color) not doing as well as whites, Asians, or Indians and scream racism without even thinking about any other reasons…

  14. Siegel

    Some strange comments on here. It feels more like people are attempting to avoid uncomfortable truths. Rusty dismisses it as garbage and then proceeds to disappeared when questioned about substantiating his claim.

    SOD turns it around on David. Find it remarkable that David never uses the word racism, and yet SOD uses racism as the descriptor in every sentence.

  15. SouthofDavis

    Siegel wrote:

    > Find it remarkable that David never uses the word
    > racism, and yet SOD uses racism as the descriptor
    > in every sentence.

    I’ll let David jump in if he thinks that “Racial Discrimination” is any different than “Racism”.

    I was using the shorter term that means the same thing just like I would write “NAACP” if David wrote “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People” since it is shorter and means the same thing.

    The Wikipedia says:

    “Racism and racial discrimination are often used to describe discrimination on an ethnic or cultural basis, independent of whether these differences are described as racial.”

  16. medwoman

    J.R.

    Show me on your list the position of the ethnic group identifying as “Caucasian” or “Anglo” or “Northern European” and I will be willing to relook at its relevance to this conversation. Until then, I would have to consider that the predominant groups of lighter skinned individuals are simply not represented.

  17. Frankly

    So, where else in the world should the US look for a model of diversity and anti-racism? If this utopia exists, wouldn’t we see it somewhere else? What about all those Nordic countries that US liberals point to as models for everything else?

    Of course the answer is nada, nope, nothing, nowhere.

    Which leads one to the next conclusion. And it is one that echos what Phil Coleman has written above.

    Interesting, I was reading an article about the rise of Asians in the US. They are better educated and have a higher average income than any other group. Yet we don’t have many Asian politicians. When have we discussed the lack of Asian Presidential candidates?

    There is something wrong in this country, and it is not racism.

    It is the African and hispanic race obsession of those stuck seeing the world through black and brown race-tinted gasses.

    I think it is time to let it go. The US is the most diverse and inclusive nation on the planet. Given human nature, this might very well be as good as it ever gets. Assuming that it is the best that it can be, those continuing to push a racism template are not solving any problems. At best they are wasting everyone’s time. At worst they are preventing any remaining modest gains we can make eliminating the social stigma that race even matters.

  18. medwoman

    For a different perspective on the view of the impact of various demographic factors on poverty in the US, I would offer the following

    [url]http://www.npr.org/2012/07/10/156387172/poverty-in-the-u-s-by-the-numbers[/url]

    Note especially the section on median income by ethnic group.
    Also note that I am not making a claim that racism is the only factor, only that I believe it to be one factor.

  19. medwoman

    JB

    “Assuming that it is the best that it can be, those continuing to push a racism template are not solving any problems.”

    The problem is that I do not and will not ever assume that this is the ” best that it can be”. Many things that had not occurred previously have occurred during my lifetime. Manned space flight occurred and had never before been achieved. In my lifetime, I have gone from a rotary phone with all calls being run through the towns operator, to the ability to communicate with you almost instantaneously from Montreal. These things would not have occurred if everyone had simply thrown up their hands and said “this is as good as it will ever be”. So why would I make the assumption that because there is no racial utopia in existence now, that we cannot continue to work to eliminate racial discrimination when we do encounter it ?

  20. medwoman

    JB

    Another serious question although I do not know how to ask it without sounding flippant. You will just have to trust me that I do not intend it that way.

    “So, where else in the world should the US look for a model of diversity and anti-racism?”

    If you truly believe, as you have stated that you do on previous posts, in American exceptionalism and American leadership, then why would we look to any other country as more utopian. Why would we not fully embrace our responsibility as the world’s greatest nation, examine our own shortcomings, and find paths to continual improvement. If we are indeed a nation of innovators and leaders, do we not have as part of our national responsibility that we should set the example for tolerance, human kindness, equal opportunity….as well as just accumulation of wealth ?

  21. medwoman

    “Yet we don’t have many Asian politicians.”

    On a much lighter note, an Asian friend of mine explained this phenomena to me this way.

    As the child of Asian parents, I had four possible career choices : doctor, lawyer, engineer ……. failure.
    Our East Indian friend was quick to concur.

  22. Frankly

    [i]”If you truly believe, as you have stated that you do on previous posts, in American exceptionalism and American leadership, then why would we look to any other country as more utopian. Why would we not fully embrace our responsibility as the world’s greatest nation, examine our own shortcomings, and find paths to continual improvement. If we are indeed a nation of innovators and leaders, do we not have as part of our national responsibility that we should set the example for tolerance, human kindness, equal opportunity….as well as just accumulation of wealth?”[/i]

    I managed a data center for a large bank. When the mainframe went down, I had employees screaming that the data center had problems. Then we started reporting “mean time between failures” and compared it national averages for computer systems like ours. Turned out that we were much better than the averages. To get to the next level of reliability we would have had to spend millions on a duplicate redundant system. The employees stopped complaining and started appreciating what they were getting when the facts came in.

    We have a similar situation with racism in this county. We are already exceptional. Chasing the next small percentage of some mythical nirvana of absolute race perfection is a waste of energy. Let’s celebrate our civil rights success and move on.

  23. Frankly

    [i]”As the child of Asian parents, I had four possible career choices : doctor, lawyer, engineer ……. failure.
    Our East Indian friend was quick to concur.”[/i]

    So, you seem to be making a case for racial/cultual difference that explain socioeconomic differences. If this works for people of Asian descent, why not people of African descent or Hispanics?

  24. medwoman

    [quote]Let’s celebrate our civil rights success and move on.[/quote]

    I would say, “Let’s celebrate our civil rights success and build on it.”

    [quote]So, you seem to be making a case for racial/cultual difference that explain socioeconomic differences. If this works for people of Asian descent, why not people of African descent or Hispanics?[/quote]
    i think you may have missed the line where I wrote that this was on ” a much lighter note” and as expressed to me by a friend. I was not making a “case” for anything with it. You seem to have taken that on yourself.

  25. Frankly

    I was on a light note too!

    My point was… if we are accepting of cultural/racial differences as the source of under or over-representation in socioeconomic outcomes, then maybe that is where we should focus our attention to improve them.

  26. Frankly

    Related to the safety net… medwoman thanks for the NPR graphs on poverty in American.

    There are some interesting tidbits there.

    For one, it is astounding how well we have done with senior poverty. This graph makes Ablert Brook’s novel 2030 read like future non-fiction. The kids are gonna’ get real angry at some point having to pay for the good lives of all those old people while they, the kids, have growing difficulty making ends meet. They will get even angrier with the realization that those old people, the baby boomers, are the same that screwed it all up.

    [img]http://www.cscdc.org/miscjeff/poverty2.jpg[/img]

    Also, isn’t it funny that in 1959 when the top federal income tax rate was 91% we had a poverty rate 7.4% higher than today when the top fed income tax rate is 35%? This makes for an inconvenient argument from the left to raise tax rates to help the poor.

    Speaking of poverty rates (and the income gap while we are at it)… did you know that there are material things missing from the poverty and wage gap calculations.

    [img]http://www.cscdc.org/miscjeff/poverty1.jpg[/img]

    If the following are excluded:

    – The Earned Income Tax Credit lowers the poverty rate by about 0.5.

    – Including the income of other people living in the same home lowers the poverty rate by 1.0.

    – Treating Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance, and free- or reduced-price school lunches as the equivalent of income reduced the poverty rate by about 2.5 percentage points.

    – Correcting for under-reporting of transfer payments lowers the poverty rate by about 0.8 percentage points.

    – Correcting for the under-reporting of other types income drops the poverty rate by about 1.6 percentage points.

    – Correcting for increased purchasing power from lower-priced goods lowers the poverty rate by 0% because of energy cost inflation.

    The total is 6.4%. This makes the 15.1% reported poverty rate more like 9.5%. Then we need to factor that many of the poor today will not be poor tomorrow because they are students or others working their way up to higher paying jobs and positions.
    [quote]Counting all of the income of “the poor,” economist Morton Paglin has estimated that the government’s official poverty rate would only be about one-fifth as high as the government reports. That, of course, is exactly why the income and government benefits are not counted.[/quote]
    Tax and transfer payments FROM the top earners is also not included in the rich-poor wage gap calculations.

    My point here is that poverty and rich-poor wage gaps are grossly overstated.

    Why is that?

  27. Don Shor

    [i]”… it is astounding how well we have done with senior poverty…”
    [/i]
    It’s not astounding, really. It’s thanks to federal programs.
    We have done well with senior poverty because of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. And we have done well, overall, with other poverty because of food stamps, Head Start, and other federal programs that provide direct aid and that transfer wealth indirectly.
    If you cut those programs, you will increase poverty.
    To pay for them, you need tax revenues. And it remains a fact that poverty disproportionately affects members of certain minority groups.
    So if you cut federal spending in order to balance the budget and/or reduce tax rates, you will increase poverty, and the impact will be greatest on minorities. And if you cut the effective income provided directly or indirectly by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, you will increase senior poverty.

  28. SouthofDavis

    medwoman posted a link to a NPR site on poverty.

    The link she posted said that the median income for Blacks was $32K, for Whites $52K and for Asians $64K.

    I found another link that said that 36% of Blacks graduate from college, 57% of Whites and 65% of Asians (despite the fact that it is easier for Blacks to get in to college than Whites or Asians).

    medwoman also posted that an Asian friend said: “As the child of Asian parents, I had four possible career choices : doctor, lawyer, engineer ……. failure.”

    We had an Asian (parents born in China) friend of my wife over yesterday (who has degrees from Stanford and Harvard) and my wife was talking about something in a parenting book her friend laughed saying that if her parents ever wrote a parenting book it would be like the popular recent “Tiger Mom” book but with more spanking of the kids…

  29. medwoman

    JB

    “My point here is that poverty and rich-poor wage gaps are grossly overstated.
    Why is that ?”

    First, I do not agree with your starting premise that poverty and especially rich-poor wage gaps are grossly overstated. Many of the items you listed could hardly qualify as “wages”. As a matter of fact, if we did away with the extremes of “wage”disparity, and payed more equitably for an hours work, we would diminish poverty significantly.

    However, for the moment, let’s accept your premise that this is an overestimate and address the outcomes of both what an “overestimate” and an “underestimate” might mean for our society. If we overestimate poverty, perhaps this means that we actually pay more attention to it as a society and implement measures to improve it as Don has pointed out. Surely we can agree that less poverty is a desirable goal ?
    So let’s look at the outcome of underestimating poverty. I suspect that the answer is likely to be one of two outcomes. 1)Wwe stop paying attention to it, stop investing in programs likely to continue the beneficial trend , and eventually see a rise in poverty. 2) A substantial number of us start using the rationale that you used earlier with regard to racism, namely ” poverty will always be with us, it is as good as it is going to get, so let’s just celebrate our success and move on”. Forgetting of course that this is a numbers game played out depending on whether or not you see it as advantageous to you personally to make the numbers appear larger or smaller and that it has very real world consequences for those at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale.

    I would like to share with you a real world example of what counting “income of other people living in the same household might mean”.
    Three things happened shortly after my father’s death when I was nine.
    1) Our sole source of income became social security – frequently not enough to keep us adequately fed and clothed . I remember making do with
    Until the next check came.
    2) My uncle, permanently disabled and also living on social security, arrived to support my mother.
    3) I started picking berries ( blackberries which grew wild and raspberries which we planted) to sell at a local grocery for my school clothes and
    school supplies.

    So Jeff, tell me which of items 2 and 3 would you count as the number that you think should be used to have my family now not included as living in poverty ? You have frequently said that you believe that all children should be adequately cared for. However, when I have repeatedly asked you how you would achieve that without adequately supporting the adult members of their family also, you have never responded with specifics.
    I know a couple of ways it could be done. 1) All children whose parents cannot adequately support them could be taken away and placed in government run “economic orphanages”. That is the Honduran solution.
    2) All children whose parents cannot adequately support them could be taken away and placed with families wealthy enough to do so. Do you really suppose that there are enough supportive families to take in all the children who would meet this criteria regardless of how you choose to spin the numbers?
    I don’t like either of these solutions, do you ? I would love to hear your specific ideas about how we can adequately feed, clothe, house, and educate the children already here while not maintaining the social safety net.

  30. SouthofDavis

    medwoman wrote:

    > As a matter of fact, if we did away with the
    > extremes of “wage” disparity, and payed more
    > equitably for an hours work, we would diminish
    > poverty significantly.

    When you say that “we” need to do away with wage disparity have “you” done anything about it like telling your boss that you want to make less so the janitors at the hospital can make more (or telling your plumber that you want to pay him less so you can pay your gardener more)?

    I’m sorry to hear about your Dad passing at such a young age, but I’m guessing that a big reason that you are successful today is that you learned to work hard as a kid. I first started working for money at 6 and by 12 I was buying all my own clothes.

    My parents wore not college grads but they taught me to work hard. I think that growing up with a strong work ethic has a lot more to do with success than not only race but education (some of the most successful people I know are real hard workers without a lot of formal education).

  31. medwoman

    SOD

    As a matter of fact, yes. I have frequently told my boss that I think that we are over paid and that housekeeping is under payed, and that I would gladly accept a pay decrease if all the doctors would do the same. This has been universally met with an indulgent smile since she knows my political inclination. Anyone who knows me will attest that I have always maintained that those of us in the upper income brackets should pay more in taxes. I have also spontaneously increased the amount that I have paid those I hire personally above what was initially negotiated.. I recognize that these folks work as hard, if not harder than I do. I think that those who believe that poverty is an indicator of laziness are choosing to ignore that many people who live in poverty are very, very hard workers. I happen to believe in personal responsibility just as much as you and Jeff claim to. I just take it one step further than either of you. I believe that those of us who have been blessed enough to do well financially have the obligation to help provide the same opportunities with those who have not been so fortunate.

    I do not doubt that what you say about learning the value of hard work played a role in my success. So did the social security checks.
    I doubt that I would have succeeded without either.

    I would invite you to answer the same questions I posed to Jeff.

  32. Frankly

    Don: [i]To pay for them, you need tax revenues.[/i]

    And where does tax revenue come from? You can get it from trees if you have a business paying taxable wages and selling trees at a profit that can be taxed. But if you tax the business too highly, fewer people will go into business selling trees and there will be less to tax.

    Don: [i]So if you cut federal spending in order to balance the budget and/or reduce tax rates, you will increase poverty, and the impact will be greatest on minorities. And if you cut the effective income provided directly or indirectly by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, you will increase senior poverty. [/i]

    Sorry Don. This is the problem. You guys are trying to have your cake and eat it to.

    You are wrong, and that is my point. The way the system is rigged, you will never change the numbers on poverty unless the unemployment rate is cut and there are more good-paying jobs. The poverty rate has never fallen lower than 11.4 percent and never will as long as we are not counting the very benefits that you are demanding we do not cut because, by your words, it would increase poverty.

    If we are not counting the value of all the free stuff government hands out to poor people, then the poverty numbers will not change if we just hand out more free stuff to poor people.

    What a scam.

    Democrats have a perpetual platform of a social ill that can never be fixed. They can always demand more and it will never change the poverty rate… so they can always demand more.

    We can’t ever fix poverty this way.

    We can only fix it by lowering the number of people receiving these handouts and getting them working and growing their own prosperity.

    I don’t have a problem addressing poverty for seniors and children. It is all the benefits we are paying to able-bodied adults… of which a large percentage are the poor and uneducated immigrants from south of the border… that also depress wages for other able-bodied adults already residing here… that we should be cutting.

  33. SouthofDavis

    I asked medwoman:

    > When you say that “we” need to do away with wage
    > disparity have “you” done anything about it like
    > telling your boss that you want to make less so
    > the janitors at the hospital can make more

    Then medwomen wrote:

    > As a matter of fact, yes. I have frequently told my
    > boss that I think that we are over paid and that
    > housekeeping is under payed, and that I would gladly
    > accept a pay decrease if all the doctors would do the same.

    The answer is “no” not “yes” since you told your boss that “we” are overpaid not that “you” are overpaid. There is nothing stopping “you” from giving $100 bills to the hard workers in the housekeeping staff. There is nothing wrong with not giving others money you earned, but if you don’t do it then it is proof that “you” don’t want to do anything about wage disparity other than pretend to care and hope that “we” do something about it.

  34. Don Shor

    [i]Don: To pay for them, you need tax revenues. 

And where does tax revenue come from? [/i]

    It comes from people selling goods and services. And they pay a portion of their gross profit in taxes. You and I differ as to what is a reasonable amount of taxes for people to pay, and how steep the progressive tax structure should be. We also differ as to what the priorities should be for that revenue. Your argument about the stifling effects of taxation apply equally well to the impact of higher defense spending. But you want to increase that. Taxes pay for that too, right?

    [i]You can get it from trees if you have a business paying taxable wages and selling trees at a profit that can be taxed. But if you tax the business too highly, fewer people will go into business selling trees and there will be less to tax. [/i]

    Thanks for the lecture. But IMO we aren’t taxing people “too highly.” People at the upper end of the income scale were just fine paying higher taxes before 2001 and 2003. We aren’t on the downward slope of the Laffer Curve, or if we are we aren’t very far along on it.

    

[i]Don: “So if you cut federal spending in order to balance the budget and/or reduce tax rates, you will increase poverty, and the impact will be greatest on minorities. And if you cut the effective income provided directly or indirectly by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, you will increase senior poverty. 
”


    Sorry Don. This is the problem. You guys are trying to have your cake and eat it to. 

You are wrong, and that is my point. The way the system is rigged, you will never change the numbers on poverty unless the unemployment rate is cut and there are more good-paying jobs. [/i]

    You just demonstrated above that we have, in fact, cut the poverty rate for seniors in this country. I’ve shown that we’ve done it by:
    guaranteeing a certain level of income,
    by directly providing health care,
    by offsetting the costs of healthcare, and by a raft of other social programs.

    Yes, having more jobs will provide us with more revenues and reduce the demand for those government programs. But that doesn’t negate the poverty-reducing effect of those programs.

    [i]The poverty rate has never fallen lower than 11.4 percent and never will as long as we are not counting the very benefits that you are demanding we do not cut because, by your words, it would increase poverty. [/i]

    Again, the poverty rate for seniors has fallen dramatically. If you’ve got some other metric than income for assessing poverty, by all means let me know what it is.

    

[i]… 

We can’t ever fix poverty this way. 

We can only fix it by lowering the number of people receiving these handouts and getting them working and growing their own prosperity. [/i]

    Again with the dichotomous thinking. More jobs are good; governement programs are also useful and address real needs. It’s not an either/or situation.
    But the economy does go through cyclical downturns, people lose their jobs. Sometimes their retirement investments get wiped out. Sometimes medical costs bankrupt them because they are uninsured or underinsured. Things like that.
    For those situations, we provide a safety net. And, for the record again (and again and again), we [i]are[/i] fixing poverty this way, at least for the elderly.

    

[i]I don’t have a problem addressing poverty for seniors and children. It is all the benefits we are paying to able-bodied adults… of which a large percentage are the poor and uneducated immigrants from south of the border… that also depress wages for other able-bodied adults already residing here… that we should be cutting.[/i]

    A lot of those poor, uneducated immigrants (why don’t you just go ahead and say Mexicans, Jeff? That’s what you mean) are doing a lot of work and are paying taxes. You are aware that the wave of migration from Mexico to the US has ended at the moment, by the way? And what is your proposal for income support for people who can’t find work during times of recession?

  35. Frankly

    [i]why don’t you just go ahead and say Mexicans, Jeff? [/i]

    Because then I would leave out other immigrants that are poor and uneducated… most of them coming over the southern border.

    When you look at the map of poverty rates, it is pretty clear that it is concentrated in the South and Southwest where there is a higher concentration of immigrants from south of the border. I have no problem with these immigrants that work. However, they become a convenient statistic for the emotive arguments from the left that poverty rates are still high (because they work at lower-wage unskilled labor jobs). The poverty threshold in this country means you can have a higher standard of living than 85% of the rest of the global population and still be considered in poverty. So, an immigrant from central or south America earning 10-times what he would have been able to earn back home would still be considered a person in poverty in this country.

    Basically our immigration policies and enforcement (or lack of them) has allowed the number of poor people in this country to balloon from both legal and illegal immigration. I find it ironic that the same politically-left people demanding amnesty… many even demanding open borders… then turn around and cry about the high numbers of people in poverty.

    The point I am making here is that there are solutions to reducing the numbers of people in poverty and those solutions are included in the ideology of the right. The ideology of the left perpetuates poverty. Given this it is very ironic that the left have the brand of being the saviors of those in poverty, and the right is branded as not caring. If only the poor knew the truth!

  36. medwoman

    SOD

    “if you don’t do it then it is proof that “you” don’t want to do anything about wage disparity other than pretend to care and hope that “we” do something about it”

    It is interesting to me how frequently a genuine question such as what I posed to you and Jeff is met with deflection and an unsupported personal disparagement that I only “pretend” to care. With all due respect, I do not believe that you have any more knowledge of my personal efforts to mitigate wage disparity than I have of your charitable acts or community involvement. But what I can tell you is that without a greater contribution from those who are capable of making one, this problem will not improve.

    I await your specific recommendations for addressing these issues.

  37. medwoman

    JB

    “The point I am making here is that there are solutions to reducing the numbers of people in poverty and those solutions are included in the ideology of the right.”

    Once again, I would ask you a very simple question.
    How would you propose providing for children, or the elderly for that matter, without also providing for the “able bodied adults” who are also called their parents or care giving children in your right leaning ideology. Specifics would be appreciated.

  38. Frankly

    Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    I practice being the type of person I would like others to be. I am not always successful, but I am a continuing work in progress.

    I think if more people did the same; the world would be a better place.

    However, when people try to force others to be something they desire them to be, we have a problem.

    Show me the way. Lead by example. Teach, mentor and explain. However, if you try to force me, I will rebel. I will rebel because humans are wired to rebel. We are wired to be individualistic and searching for our own definition of righteousness… we are searching for self-actualization. If you force me, it is your definition and your righteousness, not mine. If I change the way you want me to, it will be your success, not my success. If I only comply, I will be less human and less individualistic. I will be one of the collective only. As such I will calm the nerves of the chronically worried among me, but at what cost to my self-worth. What cost to my soul?

  39. Davis Progressive

    [quote]Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    I practice being the type of person I would like others to be. I am not always successful, but I am a continuing work in progress.

    I think if more people did the same; the world would be a better place. [/quote]

    agreed

    but then we get here: “when people try to force others to be something they desire them to be, we have a problem.”

    so by that token was the civil rights movement wrong?

  40. Frankly

    [i]so by that token was the civil rights movement wrong?[/i]

    Whenever change is implemented by force there is a price to pay. There is a value proposition that may justify the price, but often we ignore the calculation.

    I think with the civil war, we did calculate the price and decided it was still necessary. With the 1950s civil rights movement, I think we did not calculate the price for forced compliance of change.

    Frankly, when you look at the general status of blacks in this country, I think it is clear that we have received sub-optimum results in our quest for equality. The same is true for South Africa where after Apartheid the quality of life for blacks in that country has plummeted.

    What happens when change is forced, there will be limited buy-in by those forced to change. Conversely, the ideal method to foment change is to lead, inspire and incentivize others to change themselves. That is a subtle but profound difference. It is better because of the increase in the sense of participation, ownership and shared goals.

    Getting back to climate change, if you regulate me to force me to adopt expensive and limited green technology, you will own the change and I will be forever resentful for any and all problems it causes me. However, if you encourage me through tax incentives to investment in technology that helps the environment, I will be a partner in your effort and we will share the same goals. As a partner, I will work with you to solve any problems it causes instead of pinning the blame on you.

  41. SouthofDavis

    medwoman wrote to Jeff:

    > You have frequently said that you believe that all
    > children should be adequately cared for. However,
    > when I have repeatedly asked you how you would
    > achieve that without adequately supporting the
    > adult members of their family also, you have never
    > responded with specifics.

    A simple way to put a huge dent in poverty is to require every guy not paying child support to live in a “boot camp” environment (modeled after the successful Delancy Street program in SF) where they have to come to the boot camp after work every night until they are caught up on their child support. Guys that don’t have jobs will get job training at the boot camp and will only be able to leave for job interviews and to spend time with their kids. I predict that out of wedlock births would drop by more than 50% within a year of this program starting.

    We could have a similar boot camp for single people (using the enlisted men’s barracks at a closed military bases) and families (using the family housing at closed military bases) that needed government assistance with the goal of training everyone to get past their problems (like my former CPA who was paralyzed from the waist down) and find something they can do to support themselves so they can move out on their own. I’m betting that the numbers of people that “need” help will drop by more than half when they have to move and go to daily job training.

    The current system of just giving people money to buy votes letting them sit around all day watching TV is not working.
    Interesting article below:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/331950/obamas-welfare-state-more-beneficiaries-now-above-poverty-line-below-eliana-johnson#

    The National Review comes at things from a right wing/Republican perspective, but it is rare when they publish numbers that are wrong. I’m no fan of the Republican party and want to cut “corporate” welfare even more than “welfare” (a poor family can use some cash more than Chevron one of the most profitable companies in the world) I hate Romney and the Republican party so much that I just voted and mailed in my ballot for Obama since I figure that Obama and a right wing congress will do less to screw up the country over the next four years than Romney and a right wing congress…

  42. Davis Progressive

    “A simple way to put a huge dent in poverty is to require every guy not paying child support to live in a “boot camp” environment (modeled after the successful Delancy Street program in SF) where they have to come to the boot camp after work every night until they are caught up on their child support. “

    what’s the fixation with boot camps? there’s limited evidence that they work in long term changing behavior.

  43. Frankly

    SoutofDavis: Interesting ideas. Unfortunately you shot them down with your vote.

    It seems the explosion in unwanted children has coincided with the invention of the birth control pill and the march of Gloria Steinem (i.e., the sexually-independent woman).

    Women hold the keys this conundrum because unless there is rape, they control the keys to unlock chastity. In this case, why do we move so quickly to men being the culprit and women being the victim? It is a fact that males are pursuing a biological function to procreate. What biological function are women pursuing to have unprotected sex with a man not yet proven reliable as a provider? Or, in the case where the woman is self-sufficient and does not need a provider, what IS her biological function that drives this desire to be a single mother?

    Certain once there is a child, assuming there was no prior agreement to the contrary, the father must take responsibility. For this I think the boot camp idea is worthy of consideration. But what if a woman, knowing that she has the power to enslave a male to provide for her through a proxy of providing for the child, seduces the man to get her pregnant?

    I’m sure my questions will raise the hackles on those comfortable with the “bad-man”, “good-woman” template. However, they beg to be asked. If we are going to solve the out-of-wedlock birth problem, and the problem with a growing number of single woman mothers in poverty… then it seems to me the solution should be directed toward the behavior of girls/women first and foremost. In some respects, I see men as the victim in unwanted childbirth.

    One last point… maybe legalized prostitution might help reduce the number of unwanted children.

    I’m sure I will hear from medwoman on this post!

  44. medwoman

    SOD

    I truly appreciate your thoughtful response with specific suggestions. The idea of mandatory assignment to confined living quarters comes a little too close for me to the concept of concentration camps for the poor. However, your posting of defined ideas certainly opens up room for discussion. So I would make a couple of counter suggestions and invite your feedback.

    1) make some sort of service to country mandatory for citizenship.
    . This could be for example military service or domestic service, such as teaching, medical provision to undeserved communities to
    accommodate those with an objection to war. No exceptions for gender, faith, identity of parents. This would allow for the development of a
    trade, or could be deferred until after completion of training and then fulfilled as I did with the public health service.
    2) Provide low cost or free, readily available contraception to anyone responsible enough to seek it. We know from studies both in the US and
    abroad that this is the most effective strategy to decrease both unintended pregnancy and abortion. A win for both sides of the abortion
    debate.
    3) Restore school funding. Some of this cost could be mitigated by having the folks doing their service serve as teachers or instructional aides depending on their level of training upon entry to service. Without adequate education readily available, I fail to see how we can expect those who are children today to contribute optimally to the economy of the future.

    I addressed this to SOD, but now that we actually have a conversation going, I would like to invite anyone interested to chime in with any constructive ideas.

  45. medwoman

    JB

    “If I change the way you want me to, it will be your success, not my success. If I only comply, I will be less human and less individualistic. I will be one of the collective only. As such I will calm the nerves of the chronically worried among me, but at what cost to my self-worth. What cost to my soul?”

    You seem to see the world in much more black and white terms than I do. I believe that it is possible to equally value both the individualistic characteristics of humans and the social characteristics of humans. To place one aspect above the other is for me a false dichotomy and a denial of the full potential of the human being. Indeed, at what cost to the soul ?

  46. Frankly

    medwoman, I think you are missing the point. The comparison is not individual versus collective. It is free-individual versus forced collective.

    I fully support our freedom of association. I would prefer more of it rather than less of it. However, I would prefer zero government-forced association and collectivism.

  47. SouthofDavis

    medwoman wrote:

    > I truly appreciate your thoughtful response with
    > specific suggestions.

    I really do want to make things better and hope break through the only ideas approved by “our party” are good that so many people seem to have, and let’s bash the “other side” to make “our party” look better.

    http://reason.com/archives/2012/08/20/the-wrong-side-absolutely-must-not-win

    > 1) make some sort of service to country mandatory
    > for citizenship.

    I am 100% on board with this and feel that a year between High School and College (or trade school or work for those that don’t want to go to college) is the best time to do this full time, but I would like both public and private schools to do more community service starting at 1st grade. I know kids that live in Davis who feel like their life sucks when their parents won’t upgrade their iPhone 4S to an iPhone 5. Tutoring kids who have spent a few months living in a van with their Dad and brothers after their Mom OD’s really helps to put what kind of smartphone you have in perspective.

    > 2) Provide low cost or free, readily available
    > contraception to anyone responsible enough to
    > seek it.

    I have not been to Planned Parenthood lately, but as far as I know at least since the late 70’s (when I first saw condoms and birth control pills that were given out for free) and in the 80’s (when I drove women to get contraception for free) women with no money have always been able to free contraception. I’m pretty sure that just about every college student (maybe not at BYU) can get free contraception on campus. Do we need to change anything or do you really know of smart responsible poor adult women that are seeking free contraception that can’t get it?

    > We know from studies both in the US and
    > abroad that this is the most effective
    > strategy to decrease both unintended pregnancy
    > and abortion. A win for both sides of the
    > abortion debate.

    With 10+ types of birth control available to women most (I know it is not all) “unintended” pregnancies are only “unintended” by the man (this type of “unintended” pregnancy is really popular amoung college educated women in their 30’s dating a guy who “won’t commit”)…

    > 3) Restore school funding. Some of this cost could be
    > mitigated by having the folks doing their service serve
    > as teachers or instructional aides depending on their
    > level of training upon entry to service.

    One of the things I learned taking martial arts as a kid is that someone who just recently mastered a skill is often one of the best person to teach that skill to someone who has not mastered it yet. As an added bonus the person who just mastered the skill will often get even better when they start to teach it. Years later I learned that many Asian cultures have a similar model for education (not just martial arts) where older kids teach younger kids. I would like to see US schools start to do more of this and we could save a lot of money with one teacher supervising dozens of kids teaching younger kids the way a sensei in a dojo supervises advanced students teaching younger students. I’m no fan of Newt Gingrich, but I would like to expand on his idea of kids working in the schools so EVERY kid in public (and private) schools are doing work to make the school a better place. The last couple generations are the first in America where most kids have not done any manual labor. Almost all older Americans (even super rich older Americans that have always been super rich) have done laundry and cleaned toilets, while I’m willing to bet that most (as in over half) American kids under 25 (even lots of poor kids) have never done laundry and cleaned a toilet.

  48. K.Smith

    @SoD:

    “I have not been to Planned Parenthood lately, but as far as I know at least since the late 70’s (when I first saw condoms and birth control pills that were given out for free) and in the 80’s (when I drove women to get contraception for free) women with no money have always been able to free contraception. I’m pretty sure that just about every college student (maybe not at BYU) can get free contraception on campus. Do we need to change anything or do you really know of smart responsible poor adult women that are seeking free contraception that can’t get it?”

    It’s not just being able to pop into PP and get free birth control. It goes back to sexual health education, and having it be -the norm- in our public schools, and starting from a young-ish age.

    As has been pointed out in previous discussion threads, the US has -never- had a widespread comprehensive sex education program as the status quo. And I don’t know that you could -ever- get past the hand-wringing of the religious right in this country in order to do so.

    I think that the lack of education in this realm leads to poor decisions down the line, even though free or low-cost contraception is available at universities, etc.

    But you’re also leaving off a big segment of the female population that does not go to college (and so might not have the same level of access/education that college students would have in relation to reproductive health and contraception).

  49. medwoman

    “when I drove women to get contraception for free) women with no money have always been able to free contraception. I’m pretty sure that just about every college student (maybe not at BYU) can get free contraception on campus. Do we need to change anything or do you really know of smart responsible poor adult women that are seeking free contraception that can’t get it? “

    I think your comment about “when I drove women” is more telling than you may know. Davis students, like those on most college campuses, I agree have fairly ready access to contraception. This however is not necessarily true for rural or some inner city women. I speak on the basis of having practiced in Arizona, Fresno, the east bay area, Sacramento and Davis over an almost 30 year career. Planned Parenthood and a number of community based clinics offer means based treatment. However, I do believe that there is much more to be done. There has been a tremendous amount of disinformation and scare tactics which have been used primarily by religious groups to scare women away from the use of contraceptives. Combine this with our medias approach to sexuality and the fact that we pretend in our schools that sexuality is some “hush hush” subject that should be separate from education about any other physiologic function, we have a perfect storm of mistaken ideas.

    Also, not all contraception is created equal. A woman using an Iud as her means of contraception has a < 1% chance of getting pregnant in a year. The woman using condoms has a 15-20% chance of getting pregnant. Most women I encounter do not know this.
    It is another misconception that the only one “not intending” a pregnancy is the man. The rate of unintended pregnancy has remained constant at between 45-50% for the entire 30 years that I have been in practice. As KS has pointed out, education and societal attitudes are critical. In Davis, where the educational level is si high, it is difficult to believe, but many women are simply ignorant about their reproductive options.

    Also SOD, I agree with your third point about students mentoring and teaching other students. My daughter and I actually did teach younger students how to read while she attended NDE, however, I think this is very underutilized.

  50. medwoman

    JB

    “I think you are missing the point. The comparison is not individual versus collective. It is free-individual versus forced collective.”

    No, Jeff. I am not “missing the point”. I simply do not agree with the narrow way you choose to frame the issue. For me, the issue is the individual and collective needs of all but the most exceptional humans who choose to live in isolation. On this it would appear that we will simply have to agree to disagree.

  51. medwoman

    JB

    You know, just when I think you could not possibly write anything that would surprise me, you manage to out do yourself. In this case you managed to render me completely if temporarily speechless.

    “Women hold the keys this conundrum because unless there is rape, they control the keys to unlock chastity. In this case, why do we move so quickly to men being the culprit and women being the victim? It is a fact that males are pursuing a biological function to procreate. What biological function are women pursuing to have unprotected sex with a man not yet proven reliable as a provider? Or, in the case where the woman is self-sufficient and does not need a provider, what IS her biological function that drives this desire to be a single mother?

    They control the keys to unlock chastity!!!! This is so patently ridiculous that I hardly know where to start.
    1) why are men not expected to be equally as sexually responsible as women ? I know it is common across virtually all societies to blame women for men’s uncontrolled sexual behavior. Men are frequently controlled by sexual desire just as are women. So why should women be held exclusively responsible ?
    2) However, if you want to look at this from a purely biological point of view, consider this reproductive fact. A woman has a few days each month in which she is fertile. A man, in theory can impregnate a woman every time he ejaculates. So given the statistics of reproduction, who does it sound like to you should bear the greater responsibility for contraception ?
    3) I feel strongly that the problem is not that we make “culprits” of men, but rather that we fail to hold them responsible at all.
    My evidence: 1) what do we commonly call a woman who has sex with more that one man ? the word “slut” comes to mind.
    what do we commonly call a man who has sex with more than one woman ? The words stud or player come to mind.
    No double standard there ?
    2) How about the proportion of Viagra and Cialis adds compared to adds for condoms or BCP or IIUDs ?
    3) How about within the medical field ? Think things are better there ? How many of you men are asked at every visit what
    Form of contraception you are using? So back to the basic biology of all this. Reminder, every single ejaculate has the
    possibility to impregnate, so how again is it logical for it to be entirely the responsibility of the woman ?
    4) so who do I really blame ? The mothers and fathers who will not hold all of their children equally responsible for their reproductive choices.
    And this can be done. How do I know ? Because I discussed these issues freely with my children and both my daughter and my son have been open with me and sought my advice as needed with regard to sexual and reproductive protection.

    Finally, with regard to prostitution, with appropriate protections and age restriction, I think both female and male prostitution should be legal.

  52. SouthofDavis

    medwoman wrote:

    > This however is not necessarily true for
    > rural or some inner city women.

    Everything (except what they happen to grow or raise) is harder to get in rural America, but do you really think that there is an inner city area in America (even in Utah and Alabama) with over 100K people where free contraception is not a bus ride away?

    > There has been a tremendous amount of disinformation
    > and scare tactics which have been used primarily by
    > religious groups to scare women away from the use of
    > contraceptives.

    I’m no religious scholar, but I have close friends that practice and/or were raised in a large number of different religions and it seems like most “scare tactics” are against pre-marital sex that I believe (if I remember correctly from the undergrad religious studies class I took) is prohibited and/or a “sin” by the majority of the world’s major religions.

    > Combine this with our medias approach to
    > sexuality and the fact that we pretend in
    > our schools that sexuality is some “hush
    > hush” subject that should be separate from
    > education about any other physiologic function,
    > we have a perfect storm of mistaken ideas.

    I think that we will both agree that the schools in America are having a tough time teaching reading writing and math. I think it is better for everyone if the schools focus on those three subjects since (this might sound hard to believe living in Northern California) if we let other stuff get in to the schools we are more likely to have a class about how the earth is ~2,500 years old and it was created in 7 days by a guy whose son died for our sins than an informative birth control class (if you don’t agree with me spend a few months in Alabama, Mississippi or another “red state” and you will)…

    > Also, not all contraception is created equal. A woman
    > using an Iud as her means of contraception has a < 1%
    > chance of getting pregnant in a year. The woman using
    > condoms has a 15-20% chance of getting pregnant.

    I’ve seen a lot of studies over the years and I’m betting that the 20% condom failure rate study had a lot of meth (and/or crack) heads with IQs under 90. With that said we need to teach kids just like they don’t go rock climbing without a backup safety device or scuba diving without a second regulator (and a buddy with a second regulator) you don’t have sex unless both people are using birth control. Smart responsible women on the pill having sex with smart responsible guys using condoms worry about lightning strikes more than they worry about getting pregnant…

  53. jimt

    David,

    I wonder if the lack of progress in race relations is in part related to the stagnating economy and jobless rates.
    Historically, when times have been hard economically, each racial and ethnic group, including whites, tend to hunker together with their tribe; with tribal ID mainly defined by culture, but since historically different races also had different cultures, the division was also manifested by racial group.
    In recent times, adults and children are encouraged to be aware of and identify themselves by their race, strengthening the division of tribal social ties by race (this applies to all races, white and brown and black).
    Thus we can expect that as times get hard, there will be more racial tensions as racial identification has become a more prominent feature of tribal/social identification; and each tribe strives for an advantage.
    If economic times get easier, we can expect the converse, and a relaxing of racial/ethnic tensions.

  54. medwoman

    SOD

    “where free contraception is not a bus ride away? “
    This is technically true, but misses the broader sociological context of the problem. It is one thing to simply hop on a bus if you are an 18 year old
    college student. It is quite another if you are a an 18 year old mother of two, first fathered by one of your mothers “boyfriends”, second by the guy who told her he loved her and was going to get her out of her abusive family situation and then vanished. Not an uncommon type of story in my experience. Also not so easy if you are one of the major sources of income for your family by working two to three fast food or the equivalent jobs.

    “betting that the 20% condom failure rate study had a lot of…..” would be a very bad bet.
    A well written lay article including a chart comparing theoretical with actual user efficacy rates can be found on Wikepedia
    Under contraceptive comparisons. However a point with regard to the interrelatedness of all these issues. An estimated 23 million American adults, or 1 in 7 is unable to read at a level that would allow them to interpret this article from the last government compiled data that I could find as of 2009. Unfortunately, very few people would be incapable of understanding the lies in the video produced by a group of nuns in Ohio ( Google nuns and contraception) which states that contraceptives are related to male homosexuality, cancer, infertility and will destroy women’s lives.

    So, like you, I see education as a major key. Until we have a population that can read at reliably higher than a fourth grade level and have been encouraged to question medical and “scientific” information pro video by their church, I think we are unlikely to see much improvement.

    For now, must away. Flying out of Montreal, away from Sandy, and to Haiti. Back on blog probably in one week as situation in Haiti uncertain.

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