Posts Tagged UK
There has been a lot of fascinating coverage in the Atlantic over the past couple of years regarding the impacts that the GFC have had on men in the workforce — most famously, Hannah Rosin’s 2010 cover story ‘The End of Men‘.
Today, Jordan Weissmann is arguing that the neologism coined in response — “mancession” — is misplaced, since men are always the gender to be more adversely affected by a recession.
Perhaps it’s finally time to retire the phrase “mancession.”
During the past few years, that grisly portmanteau has become a popular shorthand for the way men seemed to suffer a special degree of misfortune during the Great Recession. Male-dominated industries, particularly construction, had been at the heart of the housing bust and the ensuing downturn, and their job prospects diminished more as a result. Hence, a new turn of phrase was born.
And it is accurate. Men’s employment did indeed crash further than women’s. But here’s why we might want to consider putting “mancession” on ice: It turns out men have gotten the brunt of every economic downturn for the past thirty years. In other words, every recession has been a “mancession.”
On the other hand, Tanya Gold in The Guardian argues that the current recession (and the Tory Government) is affecting women far more.
I will type until my fingers bleed; these are the worst of times for women, and the best of times for inequality, which is not a buzzword to be mocked but a phenomenon that is paid for in human tears. At a TUC event last month we lamented: we are going backwards. Women are leaving the workforce in ever greater numbers, to meet the usual fate of women who don’t work in a shrinking state divesting itself even of free access to the Child Support Agency and legal aid – poverty, and indifference to poverty. When the current vogue for retro style rolled in – cupcakes and Mad Men and Julian Fellowes’s reactionary fantasies – I thought it was a trend. I didn’t realise it was a prophecy, hung with other assaults on women’s needs, such as protesters standing like righteous zombies outside British abortion clinics. (Be pregnant, is their message. Be grateful).
I do want to note that while Gold offers some compelling figures, she also said this:
the long-hours macho working culture that thrills business because it enables men’s psychological dominance
Right. That sounds like the reason businesses would want people to work more. I think you nailed it there Ms Gold…
There are some interesting questions being raised though: why is the recession affecting men more in the US and women more in the UK? Is that, in fact, the truth? Was the GFC sexist? Does Gold refuse to work long hours because it is “macho” or because she is lazy?
A defence of British JStreet equivalent Yahad in the JPost:
Many young and committed Jews of today see Israel’s security and existence as a given, anti-Semitism as an evil which can (and must) be combatted, and the continued rule over another people as a blemish on the reputation of Israel. They love Israel, but wish it to take its proper role as a true equal among nations on the global scene. They do not, in the words of the Zionist Federation director, “claim to be pro-Israel” any more or less than all other pro-Israel organizations, nor should they be required to apologize for their credentials simply because they are not part of the age-old establishment community organizations, who rightly feel threatened by their popularity and freshness.
There is some legitimacy in this, although I still have a massive issue with the way JStreet chooses to operate. Here’s why (my bold):
… The appearance of yet another competitor on the street obviously raises concerns for those organizations who traditionally had a monopoly over fund raising.
Many donors have, in recent years, preferred to switch away from the general organizations and give directly to causes with which they identify. Yahad and J Street, along with other political lobbies and educational organizations, are also out there competing for the minds and the hearts of this small nucleus of donors.
Want to be a left-wing Israeli? Fair enough. I am, however, not in favour at all of this idea of influencing American/British politics to put pressure on Israel and force the Israeli government into a particular position. Luckily this hasn’t really caught on in Australia (yet…).
I met with representatives of both AIPAC and JStreet on a recent trip to the US. JStreet call themselves a “left wing answer to AIPAC”; AIPAC call JStreet “insignificant”, for good reason. What JStreet (and pretty much everyone else who talks about AIPAC) miss is that AIPAC is not a right wing organisation. It has no particular agenda either way and takes no specific stance on Israeli politics. The criticism that AIPAC gets from left wing Zionists is because it isn’t a left wing organisation, but it actually gets similar criticism for the opposite reason from right wing Zionists.
AIPAC is very effective because it has a very narrow — and often misunderstood – agenda. The organisation exists for the sole reason of improving the relationship between Israel and the US Congress. That is it. It chooses a few specific policy items to work on at any one time and will do its best to push them through. It also tries to only picks battles it knows it can win, which gives the impression that it wields much more power than it in fact does.
JStreet, on the other hand, takes a stance on everything to do with the Middle East and tries to push a very specific and very broad agenda onto Israel through the US. It is also extremely partisan — the amount of Republicans it supports can probably be counted on one hand. As a lobby group, therefore, JStreet will only have marginal success in Democrat administrations and will have absolutely no success in Republican administrations.
The other issue is “broadening the tent” within the Jewish community. This I am in favour of — if people want to think like JStreet, why not let them? I think I stole this quote from Jeffrey Goldberg: I don’t agree with all of JStreet’s policies, but I support its right to exist.
Plus the old pro-Israel organisations are to a great extent overly-bureaucratic, anachronistic behemoths with fading relevance. After the current generation of donors die, I’d be surprised if JNF, UIA etc are half as successful – they need to change dramatically if they hope to be. That is why new grassroots initiatives are important. Again, I don’t support a lot of NIF’s donees, but they’re at least doing something different.
This AFP story in The Australian was talking about how proud Britain felt during the royal nuptials, st least as reflected in the editorials of most of it’s newspapers.
I’m a British ex-pat, for those who are not aware, and when I visited London again recently, I was really struck by the despair and hopelessness that the country seems to be going through.
Britain has not had much occasion to be proud these last few years. Aside from the post-colonial guilt that seems to be pervading British thinking these days, the country has fallen as a political and military power, national unity is at an all time low, everyone is complaining about too many immigrants and the football team can’t even make it past the first round of the World Cup. More to the point, the entire economy has collapsed, there is horrible unemployment and the country has come to the realisation that whilst it has an over-inflated financial sector, the country doesn’t do anything anymore.
So what did the wedding have to do with this? Well, despite all this, Britain can still put on a damn good show. They can have pomp and formality, they can pack hundreds of thousands of adoring fans outside a majestic cathedral, they can have a choir singing rousing patriotic songs about how awesome Britain is and they can entice millions upon millions of people to tune-in and watch it all take place, even if they spend the whole time complaining about it on Facebook/Twitter.
Britain can come together and be proud of something, celebrate itself as a nation, celebrate its history and its contribution to the world.
That’s why the end of that article irked me a little:
The proudly republican Guardian laid down arms for a day, but urged Britons not to get carried away with royal hype in the light of the nation’s economic troubles.
“These are tough times for millions of British people. This is not a day for demented princess worship,” it said in an editorial. ”It is a day for a smile and a toast, not a day for standing to attention and tugging of forelocks. Tomorrow, and on every other day of the year, we will have to re-enter the world of reality.”
Why does the grim reality of an economic, political and cultural crisis mean that people shouldn’t get carried-away in the festivities? I would argue that they should get carried away because life is so bad. If you spend all year feeling ashamed, depressed and inadequate, what’s wrong with taking one day out to feel pride, stand to attention and tug on those forelocks as if Britain were still number 1?
It’ll take more than spending cuts to get Britain back on its feet. What I saw yesterday was one day where Britain held its head up high and was British again, and I don’t see why that’s in any way bad. I think The Guardian needs to show some more spirit.