Dead to Your Brethren

by Henry on March 10, 2009

“Matthew Yglesias”: today

I’m probably not breaking any news if I tell you that American business really hates unions and, thus, really hates the Employee Free Choice Act. Thus, even though John Boehner is trying to destroy the American economy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is squarely focusing its fire on pro-EFCA Democrats. Your typical business executive would rather let the world burn, or see his children fed to a pack of wild boars, then see a union form at his firm. And it makes a certain amount of sense—businessmen appreciate the value of class solidarity. If you run your company into the ground, you get a nice severance package and another job at another company. But if you let your company be unionized, you’d be dead to your brethren. An attack on one is an attack on all, and they all stand together on this point.

“Adam Smith”:, 233 years ago:

We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of. Masters, too, sometimes enter into particular combinations to sink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost silence and secrecy, till the moment of execution, and when the workmen yield, as they sometimes do, without resistance, though severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people.

Men and Mothering

by Harry on March 10, 2009

Another piece by Mary Ann Mason at the Chronicle, this time on the problems academic men (and men generally) have being primary carers for children. Describing a recent book by Andrea Doucet, Do Men Mother?: Fathering, Care, and Domestic Responsibility, she says:

it was not easy for those single fathers because, just as in the scientist’s case, American society is not always willing to accept them as the primary caregivers. Particularly tricky is being accepted by other parents in social situations and at schools. As one father commented in the book, “There’s a lot of networks for moms and there isn’t a network for guys, and I think a huge part of that is it isn’t easy for a guy. I’ve been out to the library, and I’ve seen a guy pushing a baby carriage. But it’s just not so easy for a guy to go up to another guy and say, ‘Hey, how old is she? Do you want to be friends?'”

She goes on:

Father as breadwinner is a deeply held cultural stereotype within the society and the university; despite many instances in which women, particularly professional women, earn salaries larger than their husbands’. In Doucet’s study, the married fathers who had chosen to be stay-at-home parents included those whose wives made a much higher salary and those in couples who had decided that the father was the better choice for stay-at-home parent. In virtually all of those cases, the father returned to work within three years. Most of them attributed it to the social stigma they had experienced by not being the breadwinner.

[click to continue…]

Defending the European Parliament

by Henry on March 10, 2009

Gideon Rachman “links to”: the Economist‘s new “‘Charlemagne’ EU affairs blog”: which is indeed quite good. Even if you don’t agree with its take, it’s funny, well written and states its prejudices quite clearly up front. It’s also written by only one person, so that the “Free Exchange” problem of individuals pursuing personal gripes under cover of anonymity doesn’t arise. But one of the reasons why Gideon says he likes the blog is that it

shares my low opinion of the European Parliament. Describing it as a “student union with better expenses” is about right

[click to continue…]

Wildlife adventures

by John Quiggin on March 10, 2009

We may not have mutated beavers (jokes on this topic to the beaver thread, please!), but life in Australia is still interesting. I’ve never had a roo in the house, but I once had to remove a green tree snake which had come in through the window. And that reminds me of my favourite Australian tourist promotion.