by Jonathan A. Weiss Esq.

One of the many frustrations of following the news on the daily mass media is not only its presentation before full information but also the pundits who instantaneously proclaim a position and perspective which they and others repeat, without context or development for a “news cycle” – often mimicked in other periodicals. Most important issues are complex, multi sided, with counter considerations which should have been presented. Three (related) examples follow.

In the current United States (as in most of the “West”) the declining birth rate troubles many. Particularly upsetting for some is the desirable supplementing of the work force by migrants (even refugees fleeing with desperation – some caused by American policy which might argue for their admission as “reparations.” The birth rate issue is not a major theme (like the related climate change) often commented on, although significant to many Americans (particularly racists and xenophobes.) It serves well, however, as a first topic.

Given the current industrial revolution for the essentially capitalistic society we inhabit, the issue with women and their choice to have, rear, enjoy, fulfill themselves, and help produce useful citizens inevitably arises. (Under the New Deal, aid to mothers with dependent children should have been viewed as providing adequate resources to the poor to do so.) We should start not by worrying about numbers of individuals available to compete with others, computers, and robots but by recognizing involvement in children’s development with pursuit of curiosity and revelation of character with predications and abilities is exciting, rewarding, fulfilling, educational, and challenging. (Parental leave, practiced in some countries and by “stay at home” fathers suggests a range of equivalency for fathers to be factored into any social policy.)

But many factors enter. Women who choose to rear children properly either can continue to work (with tensions – e.g. breast pumping in private, now in litigation about the New York Police force), delay their entry, or take time out. Having children and rearing a family (if not imposed by culture or accident) is usually a rewarding, fulfilling experience. Watching them grow, enjoying infant’s affection, openness, honesty, learning, and curiosity, the pride and pleasure, hopefully, in achievement brings joy to parent’s , men and women, while women are uniquely equipped to have an early (and continuing) beneficial effect. Some may disagree with this last proposition, but for women who affirm it, facilitating her choice must be a social priority for parents and children alike regardless of cliches about “birth rate.”

Women not working also can shop better and often engage in community activities. Children, their own – and their friends, may be their main source of enjoyment. If an infant or child has special needs, they are available.

Age discrimination creates gender discrimination. If there is an arbitrary retirement deadline, then women who work less time, before that cut off, will receive less total money with less benefits on retirement. As youthful appearance is considered a positive for application and promotion, ageism again enters.

Corporate culture is sexist. Fox TV thrives even as the series about it and the movie “Bombshell” circulate focusing on forcing women to confirm to dress and appearance codes (Barbie Doll blondes displaying their legs), tolerate insulting and demeaning remarks, and consider advancement by allowing their bodies to be used by powerful men there. Big Law firms, in particular, have become corporations with similar characteristics more subtly present. Most jobs offer nowhere near the enrichment that many activities fostering creativity, helping others, mastering a discipline or craft, helping others, in particular, or including child rearing provide. Most do reflect patriarchal hierarchy with related expectations about appearance and conduct. For all, combating discrimination with its negative and exclusionary force remains a high priority before abstract consideration of “birth rate” (and its contribution of future workers).

But, poor women, particularly, and particularly if alone, are now not given proper support. Even not acknowledging the rights suggested by the New Deal and Roosevelt’s attempt to expand it.  The need for day care is obvious. Community based day care becomes appropriate at some stage with proper selection and supervision with awareness of the danger of baseless charges such as occurred in California and New Jersey against the mainly dark and foreign related workers. Community centers with skilled offering of education and help in home maintenance, psychology, consumer matters, the laws and their enforcement, groups for discussion and even action, and free lawyers available for protection from predators should be made universally available. It can not be exaggerated how emphasis on reading with libraries and books in the home is important (as is the obverse of clean consistent limits on modern technology such as phones, computer, loud music, and television. A good example of journalistic overlooking such crucial factors infects the debates about reducing the number of Asians -somehow now lumped as White -for admission to elite schools dependent on their test scores. Sex education must be available; contraception devices free and easily accessible for both parents and children (appropriately) to mitigate hormones and peer pressure..

In this connection, we must recognize a sharp distinction between contraception and abortion. Abortion, as a social policy, must equalize the opportunities for the poor as well as the rich and therefore widely and legally available. But, as an ethical issue it is hard to draw the line between infanticide and burden. Contraception raises no such issues (in spite of bogus claims of instant “abortions” from coils and “morning after” pills). The widespread availability of contraceptive devices would limit the consideration of abortion, including for women seeking career fulfillment.

Women, even in a capitalistic society, are not simply workers. Yet, no one seems to despair although in most families now, mothers and fathers both have to work to supply enough income (and the often illusory) provision of benefits when before the fathers alone supplied enough. This is not women’s liberation but wage slavery in a word of great wealth inequality.

Birth rates are statistical, Any account of them, any consideration of them in the work force requires considering the special challenges, possibilities, and contingencies they encounter, which society and the work place, musts be incorporated in any discussion of birth rates, human rights, and female oppression. Giving women realistic choices should not focus on “birth rates” but individual choice and fulfillment.

The Redstockings have led the intellectual way in vigorous pursuit of feminist objectives while considering them intertwined with class, race, and working conditions, etc. Organization is crucial. Consider the largest strike in American history with 20,000 young women and girls closing down garment “sweat shops” until they obtained real concessions. One of the few places not to accept unions and new conditions was the Tristate Shirt factory.  It burnt down several weeks after the agreements – using the death of 476 females, inspiring, by its horror, Francis Perkins, the Great labor leader who became Labor Secretary.

Boodle Boys
Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a wealthy merchant and Boston Brahmin, amassing a huge fortune smuggling Turkish opium into China.
Frances Perkins was born Fannie Coralie Perkins in Boston in 1880.
Warren Delano, Jr., the grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was chief of operations for Russell & Co., another Boston trading firm which did big business in the China opium trade in Canton.

Any discussion, of course, implicitly refers to other cultures (with the abuse of child brides in some) with pervasive patriarchy and religious degradation. These are cultural problems, partially susceptible to feminist pressure, but essential to recognize buttressing subtle, and not so subtle, American male domination. How can powerful traditions and dominant religions be combated here? (See my article Clash on this website)

On the other hand. . . .

Sexual (particularly child) abuse, when properly defined (primarily physically imposed invasion of private sensitive body components) must be combated vigorously. We suggested its possibility in the working world, focusing on corporations with their own “quid pro quo” as part of the politics that infect institutions. We should all affirm that it is evil.

The solution offered is to increase time in which to file a suit (statute of limitations.) No one seems to oppose such an idea but it is wrong.

We should have learned that criminal prosecution does not solve social (arguably criminal) problems. We have seen how the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, the Criminal Law Act of 1974 have led to a prison industrial complex, mass incarceration (with terrible conditions), perpetuates racism and class distinctions, and alienated (mainly poor) communities. It must be emphasized that what is crucial for criminal law is enforcement. Child and sexual abuse (recognizing the deep and lasting trauma characterizing such evil which does lead to hesitation and delay in reporting) should be immediately reported, properly police and prosecutor handled, and brought to trial speedily. The “me too” movement seems helpful too as well but extending time limits will be nowhere near as effective as proper accommodation for complaints, immediate fair investigation, and justified prosecution – the proper focus, not time limits as the right or only remedy now discussed in isolation.

Revenge, at long last, may motivate the extension. But should we encourage revenge , noting its effects between tribes and nations? Does it really help the traumatized victim or just offer a public story which satisfies the angry? I suggest it is not enough to extend time based on such an emotion, even when based on trauma  – also induced by other injuries, some inflicted on purpose, handled in personal injury law.  It probably does not diminish the trauma nor provide even a balance. Note, that in both the Cosby and Weinstein prosecutions, victims barred by the Statute of Limitations from giving testimony (an arguable use) are permitted to tell their stories which appears to create a strong impetus to conviction.

Statute of limitations (often the same for many laws – with triggers in discovery of wrongs) operate from the general principle that after a period of time, memories grow bad.

In this area, where it may reduce to “she said, he denies” it is particularly applicable (actually leaving real victims even more susceptible to damaging cross examination). Litigation, civil as well as criminal, favors the party with the best lawyers (as money can buy) – prosecutors rarely face adequate advocates except for the rich and the exceptional private or legal aid attorney. Justice will not be delayed but often thwarted if we turn to the courts for delayed consideration.

Needless to say, continued abuse means more recent events and more witnesses. We are presently, thankfully, watching some real action here. Serial abusers are like serial murderers no statute of limitation because death is worse than trauma.  When they continue to commit, proper administration processing complaints and prosecutions, should have recent examples.

If the incident is isolated in a long time past, then prosecution and incarceration may help no one (and hurt families). Certainly it is not then needed as a personal deterrent or a means to current rehabilitation. (If there is any deterrent effect in general, it is not likely augmented by prosecutions of old terrible transgressions.) Recognizing the terrible trauma induced by these acts is not remedied by later litigation, including civil. The widespread availability for counseling, etc. is a better social policy consider the Redstockings”consciousness raising” and “sisterhood is powerful.” Again, real availability for healing programs in poor neighborhoods is a high priority. The discussions should lead in this direction rather than a quick “legal” fix.

The decline in birth rates for some countries has been overwhelmed by world wide overpopulation. Few images are sadder than all the infants and children in refugee camps – if only contraception has been advocated before incarceration and after. Global warming associated may be the biggest disaster we now face (with the pundits rarely correlating the two with its obvious implication for cultural change and universal availability of contraceptives implemented, urged, and used.)

There may be a range of persuasion as to human contribution to global warming (with a range from irreversibility with feedback for melting ice to a lesser degree of connection) but there should be no doubt human activity can help remedy the current disastrous development. Most focus is on carbon essential for life – except perhaps for some rare deep sea denizens. Cap and trade is obviously wrong as it weakens overall reduction and increases chances for corruption, complication, and incompetence but still raised. Those who would benefit hope to quiet outage by offering that for the remedy to be discussed. (We may differ on the extent of the downside of technology – with computers a normal daily source of frustration making us as rats in a maze – but there certainly is the benefit projected for reducing and combating energy consumption, as well as countering those“green house” gasses.)

The issue of carbon reduction is handled inadequately in the mass media. Electricity as a source of energy used to substitute is often produced by carbon fossil fuels, coal, oil with environmentally damaging fracking (with destruction of Native American lands and religious sites). The emphasis for technical advancement is not sufficiently covered or encouraged (e.g. in smoke stacks, exhaust emissions.) The important fact is that plants are much better than any human devices while Australia and Brazil (the Amazon has been called the lungs of humanity) burn down.

No one mentions to sacrifices required for types of leisure. (The “carbon print” of “Virtual Reality” is very high.) “Smart” phones, video games, the internet etc. use a great deal of polluting energy. Many other people besides Trump play golf with the ecological devastation resulting. Amusement parks, unrestricted tourism, the use of flight rather than ground transportation cause significant pollution. Car culture with the fetish of SUVS, designed to avoid emission control, creates a great deal of pollution when extensive mass transportation inter and intra-city (accessible) would help alleviate it. The use of solar panels, ocean wave power, wind power employed whenever possible is desirable, probably essential, to augment what plants do best for “green house” gasses – as we watch with horror the destruction of forests and too little, too late or impossible restoration.

Climate change is part of a bigger problem for the destruction of the planet and what makes it beautiful and enjoyable. Monsanto and agribusiness have wrecked food production, quality, and small farmers without regard to the vital necessity for other plants to clear the atmosphere (and allow for bees and migration to prosper rather than disappear.) Industries pour pollutants and carcinogens into our water, earth, and air, joining with many other industries .They divert money from maintenance. (Consider Flint not only for the poisons in the water from industries but also the old leaden pipes)

Plastic is a major environmental issue not clearly connected to global warming but neglected in discussion of environmental degradation. There may be biological (worms eating) or technical (means of gathering) solutions, in a future perhaps too far, but any discussion of global warming must include this issue as part of the real threatening situation. Industrial waste (and garbage) before and after consumption causes global warming as one, not the only, danger to human health with poisons pervading oil, soil, and water. They all should be discussed together.
see James Ridgeway in the 1970’s

These are very difficult , if not terrible times. Pundits pontificate superficially. An educated active engaged public needs to consider the crucial factors in a broad perspective. I have suggested some.

We can now watch the pundits about Trump’s attack on Iran.
Maybe ask question would we have approved of Hitler asasination before actual war?
“The options included strikes on Iranian ships or missile facilities or against Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq. The Pentagon also tacked on the choice of targeting General Suleimani, mainly to make other options seem reasonable.”

Thus far, all offered is that it is “unpredictable” (dangerous) and a dead general caused American deaths. Vietnam should offers a warning about trying to subdue an area. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya (with leaders murdered) also are relevant to any discussion. The context with the antagonism between with Sunni and Shiites (with the unmentioned recent Iraq Iran war) is important.

Brecht: Those who are laughing have not yet got the message.
I reply: Those who are not laughing can not survive the message.

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