Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sharing vs. Imperialism

1. From my friend Alex comes this blog post on the relationship between American imperialism and sharing your toys, written by a dad staying with his son in the Philippines:

Josh and I went into another room and had a chat. I tried to articulate for him, once again, why he needs to share. We made a new rule – okay, I made the rule. If he can’t share it then he can’t keep it. What he won’t share we will give away, to that child or to someone else. Then I started reflecting on something I have observed about life in America: how riches often make people less inclined to share rather than more so; and how the version of childhood we have invented – more precisely, that the corporate market has invented – might contribute to this.

It is the very rich, those who can most afford to pay their taxes, who belly ache the most about them. (The drive to repeal the estate tax was concocted, it turns out, by the Walton family of Wal-Mart billions, et. al.) It is the very rich who often are the least inclined to give to someone else, relatively speaking....The Philippines are a very poor nation, materially. The U.S. is very rich. So what is the Bush Administration's priority in the Philippines? Enforcement of intellectual property laws, so that poor Filipinos will have to pay more -- often to us -- for cd's, auto parts, and most egregiously, prescription drugs.

2. It's behind a firewall (therefore, no link) but in today's Wall Street Journal (page D1), Jeffrey Zaslow follows up on an (in)famous 1986 Newsweek cover story based on a Harvard-Yale study that suggested that a mere 20% of 30-year-year-old white, college-educated single women would EVER find husbands. At age 40, said the study, the probability fell to 2.6%.

OMG! Naturally, the story set off a media frenzy designed to fan panic amongst members of the group in question and get them to the altar. But Zaslow's followup finds the obvious: most of the women studied, who are now in their 50s and 60s, did get married at some point, if that's something they wanted for themselves. Putting aside the question of the desirability of marriage as an end in itself and measure of self-worth, the moral is obvious: don't listen to sociological studies and commercial media that say your choices will lead inevitably to disaster. Just live the life you've imagined, and take it all as it comes.

3. My friend Howie sent me this bit on how "Germany is examining ways to encourage mothers to return to the work force after they have children." See my my March 6 entry for commentary on this issue.


Anonymous said...

On Point 3:
The women out of the work force once children came along was not a wholy unintended consiquence, it was a relection of the socialization prevalent in West Germany over the last 30-40 years.

If they really want to make a diference they need to change a whole mentality -- the East Germans are already working on that. Good early steps would be real non-descrimination laws for professions and encouragement of women to enter them, full school days for public schools, encouragement of men to spend time with their children rather than regulating it all to women's work....

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

Amen to that!

I keep thinking coming up against this, how so much depends upon the culture of parenting.