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Letters: What Do You Think?

This week: “The Biggest Single Issue”; Santiago--Serious About Running?; and More on the Gender Wage Gap

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

“The Biggest Single Issue”

Seven buses left Northampton Saturday night, February 16 for a 50,000-person rally in Washington, D.C. to bring attention to the devastation caused by tar sands extraction and the Keystone XL Pipeline, and to climate change and related environmental devastation.

What a wonderful show of so many different kinds of people: young, old and in between, moms and dads with kids, students from all over the country.

The blackout by local media was shameful. Major networks made a huge story of small Tea Party rallies, but the biggest single issue of our lifetimes, or of all time, is largely ignored.

I read that the Arctic sea ice will be gone by 2030. Al Gore told us this means there will be nothing to reflect the sun’s rays off the planet, and the dark seas will only absorb more heat. This will be the point of no return.

Our weather is already out of control. Every day they report wildfires, droughts, floods, cold snaps where they don’t belong, monster hurricanes at odd times of year or in odd places, blizzards where they rarely occur. Forests of hemlock, spruce, ash are dying, only to become wildfire tinder as parasites that normally can’t withstand cold survive our warmer winters. Every superstorm breaks new records. Every year breaks temperature records.

I wonder about the mentality of the corporate interests who manufacture the denial. They chirp cheerfully in their publications about new exploration for gas and oil that will open up in the Arctic as sea ice is no longer an obstacle. They don’t care if they blast mountains or burn down rain forests or kill our oceans. Anything for profits.

Do they really think they will sit safely in their climate-controlled trophy homes in their guarded, gated communities once things really fall apart if they amass enough money?

Santiago: Serious About Running?

This [“Holyoke Mayoral: A New Hat in the Ring, February 28, 2013”] is the second article I’ve read about Mr. Santiago and his plan to run for mayor of Holyoke. Aside from his opposition to the current mayor’s so-called “flip-flops,” I’m not seeing anything of substance that sets him apart from the current mayor. His top priorities sound identical to what has already been occurring in the city.

Shall we elect another brand-new mayor simply because you didn’t care for two past decisions, one of which is no longer an issue? If you’re serious about running, Mr. Santiago, then you need to outline quite a bit more about what sets you apart from Alex Morse. Those “flip-flops” aren’t going to cut it. You have your work cut out for you and I wouldn’t suggest procrastinating. Holyoke doesn’t know you, and it’s March.

*

More on the Gender Wage Gap

Polemic. That is how I would categorize Jerry Boggs’ letter on the topic of the gender wage gap. The content of Boggs’ letter was so presumptuous, one can only assume that Boggs does not seek to offer a genuine solution to a serious problem,but is simply kicking the hornets’ nest. I was offended by the multiple layers of sexism and blind privilege expressed by Boggs’letter.

In a time of over-much sensationalizing, we hunger for the publication of inspired thinking. Boggs’ letter falls very far short.

*

While passionate and vigorously argued, Jerry Boggs’s letter [“Understanding the Wage Gap,” February 28, 2013] fails to help anyone better understand why women workers receive less pay than their male co-workers. Rather than documenting the logical flaws in his argument, we can save time by identifying the larger narrative in which he addresses the issue of gender income inequality.

According to Boggs, the continued gap in pay between women and men is not due to a prevalent culture of sexism or an economic system that has historically depended upon women as an unpaid and low-wage workforce. Rather, women themselves have created the wage gap. They’ve done so by actively choosing to work for less pay, or by ensnaring a man to support them financially. Men are the real victims, forced to work at jobs they despise to support these women.

Can this story accurately depict the lives and choices of women, employed or otherwise, in the U.S? Boggs seeks to revise [the real narrative of] gender discrimination in the workplace and household to further lionize men while demonizing women.

Inarguably, the U.S. economy works very poorly for many of its citizens. Are men forced to work at jobs they hate? Certainly, but so are women, and they’re paid even less for it.

Boggs would have us believe, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that this fundamental inequality is somehow the result of women’s choice. Such thinking is squarely at odds with the actual, lived experience of countless women who have received less money for the same work as their male co-workers, been passed over for jobs or promotions in favor of men with fewer qualifications, or been fired for gender-related health reasons, to offer only a few common examples of sexism in the workplace.

Before beginning his apparent transcription from a “men’s rights” talking points memo, Boggs makes a legitimate argument. I agree with his initial assertion that anti-discrimination laws are ineffective means to close the wage gap. The best solution would be for employers to voluntarily stop discriminating against women. With people like Boggs offering ideological cover for employers to continue treating female workers like second-class citizens, this ultimate remedy remains distant and uncertain.

Northampton

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