Wednesday, July 15, 2015

OXI and Austerity: The Secret Historical Meaning of the Greek Referendum

by Nomad

In a nation like Greece, with its long and proud history, messages can be conveyed by symbolic acts that echo and invite comparisons. The recent Greek referendum was one of those events.

Many news commentators were mystified when the left-wing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for a nation-wide referendum on the European debt payback proposals. The attitude ran something along the lines that the Greek people had no authority to vote on such complicated issues. What was the point and what did any result actually mean?

I recall one of the reporters asking if the Greek people even understood what they were voting for. It was, they said, all too complicated an issue for the average citizen to understand. 

This was, it was implied, a matter for governments, not for citizens. Despite the fact, it was past administrations and armies of faceless bureaucrats that had engineered this experiment in austerity. Never mind that it was the people who would ultimately suffer under the proposed austerity measures, their opinion counted for nothing. 
True, there were people on fixed incomes, there were countless numbers of unemployed citizens that were entirely dependent on government support, there were large numbers of Greeks who had already suffered for the last five years from belt-tightening austerity.

According to the prevailing attitude expressed by some in the media, the opinion of these people counted for nothing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Unable to Forward: The Tragic Story of a Gay Son's Letter Lost for 26 Years

by Nomad

A local news affiliate in Virginia, WSET recently reported how a local man received a long lost letter from his now-deceased gay son. While reading the story I was struck by the fact that the father was- even now- unable to fully understand the tragedy of the situation.

For Father's Day, 1989, Duane Schrock Jr wrote to let his father know that despite their differences, he was very happy with his life and that the estrangement between them could be patched up:
"Dear Dad, we haven't been in touch for quite a while. I'm doing fine and am very happy in Richmond. I'd like to hear from you. Have a happy Father's Day. Love, Duane."
That letter, a tentative reaching out to a disapproving father on Father's Day, somehow never arrived. Six years later, in 1995, at the age of 45, Duane died of AIDS without ever re-establishing contact with his father. 
People who knew Duane considered him "a very kind and gentle person."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Plantation Politics: How Some in the Old South Continue to Deny the Evils of Slavery

by Nomad

Can racism ever be extinguished in the USA when there are still some people who wish to ignore the inhumanity of slavery and to absolve the slave-owners of all responsibility?

Recently, I saw this article the other day and thought it was worth sharing.
Margaret Biser, a tour operator for a Southern plantation,  reveals that so many of her visitors seemed determined to ignore (or at least, minimize) the human costs of slavery. 

Admittedly some of this is based on a profound but genuine ignorance about history. Blame our education system or home schooling?
However, in other cases, the problem went much deeper.
In a word, denial of the history of an enslaved race's degradation and misery.

What can one make of people who want to tour a historical plantation but who refuse to acknowledge that all the wealth and grandeur on display was based on the sweat and toil of an army of bought and sold slaves? 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Why Should Your Destiny be Decided by The Color of Your Skin?

by Nomad

Is it possible that in America the color of your skin will determine how well you will do in life?

A look at the statistics suggest that, despite all of the past progress on racial equality, if you are African American you will have the cards stacked against you. But especially if are also a man.

After reviewing numerous studies,  Jorg Spenkuch, an assistant Professor of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences at Kellogg School of Management  in Chicago came to a shocking conclusion.
"No matter where you look, race is a really important predictor of how well people do in life.”
He is one of the authors of Racial Disparities in Job Finding and Offered Wages which investigate how much discrimination can explain racial wage gaps African- Americans and other groups. 

How, fifty years after the Civil Right Era, can this still be a problem in America?