Mar. 27th, 2009

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I've mentioned before in various conversations about how in regards to various issues people often break down into three distinct groups. These are sweeping generalizations, but hear me out. Generally there's a group in favor, a group opposed, and the vast majority who are indifferent but can be influenced. Often the groups in favor/opposed have some vested interest or an ideological position that says this is the "right" thing to do.

Now as for the large indifferent group, sometimes influencing in one direction or another is done through better awareness, but it is often done through the pocketbook (and perhaps before/after passage of new laws come into play). Consider that the civil rights movement gained lots of mileage out of marches and speeches and the repression/acts of southern police/national guard but some serious changes occurred as a result of boycotts (the bus boycott in Montgomery Alabama by Rosa Parks for instance). Consider that a number of states are now thinking of rescinding the Death Penalty not because of any moral issue or even as support for the Death Penalty remains strong in some areas, but because of the costs involved with all the appeals and the facilities themselves. Personally I'm in favor of a gas tax to put gas at about 4 dollars to incentives people to get more fuel efficient cars, increase investment in alternate energy, and fund our rampant spending/bailouts. The economic nudge is immensely powerful in shaping public action and ultimately public opinion years down the road.

However, the economic nudge also has problems. Major car companies now find that their hybrids and the like aren't selling like they predicted. Jobs are outsourced overseas. Companies can take advantage of these economic times (and even perhaps have an incentive) to purge specific people (in this case the pregnant and the elderly) from their ranks. Here's an excerpt from the article:

Ms. Grossman is among the lawyers who suspect that some employers are now using the law’s laxity and the dismal economy to tacitly discriminate against new or expectant mothers. She and other experts urge women who suspect such discrimination to seek legal counsel.

“Some employers are using the economy as a pretense for laying off just one person,” Ms. Grossman said. “And very often that person is pregnant or the oldest employee on staff. The economy may be the legitimate cause — or there may be discrimination.”

Last year the number of pregnancy-based discrimination charges filed with the E.E.O.C. was up nearly 50 percent from a decade earlier, to a total of 6,285. That number seems likely to rise even higher this year.


So hard to prove this sort of thing. It's like if a non-white family wants to be part of a co-op can they prove that at the board debate race was a factor? Not if nothing is written down. The board could just say they didn't feel they "would fit in" here or that their finances were somewhat suspect. Cynical yes, but it happens.

Be well.

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