Welfare and racial stereotpyes

I must say I really enjoy checking up on my friends via that right column on Facebook.  One of my former friends from HS just liked this:

It already had 11 additional likes.   But don’t worry, racism doesn’t exist anymore.  The readers of this blog are smart enough that I don’t have to spell out the implications (plus, I’m supposed to be watching the kiddos now, not blogging and using FB).

Upward mobility

I’m really amazed and quite pleased at how the Occupy movement has been able change the political narrative.  I absolutely guarantee you that Time magazine would not have been running the following cover a couple months ago.

It’s about time there’s some sustained media attention not just to the growing inequality, but I would argue, the even more damning fact that our social mobility is not what it used to be and really anemic compared to most Western European countries.  If people could actually move between economic strata based on merit, the inequality wouldn’t be quite as troublesome, but combined with the lack of economic mobility, it really suggests some fundamental problems in our society.  There were some great graphs with the article in time, but for some reason they do not reproduce them with the on-line version (subscribers only) of the article.  That’s stupid.  Before Occupy, intrepid bloggers were already writing extensively about our problems with social mobility, but it is definitely a success of the movement to put this issue front and center.

Of course, the same day I saw this I saw a Michael Gerson column in the Post about how radicalism was taking over the movement.   I just did a quick skim and for all I know, Gerson is actually right.  But he’s missing the big picture.  Are people outside NYC and conservative blogs and columnists actually still paying much attention to the demonstrators?  Not from what I’ve seen.  Yet, their concerns about inequality and social mobility have now come to thoroughly pervade American political discourse.   A few communists in Zuccoti Park cannot change that.

Chart of the day

So, yesterday my Gender & Politics class was discussing the fairly close relationship between a nation’s fertility rate and the overal status of women in its society.  I rattled off some statistics in my notes– which for some reason did not include China.  The class suggested we look up China’s fertility rate (1.61) by the way, and it led me to this amazingly awesome google site I should have realized existed.  You can do comparison graphs of fertility rates for any country you choose!  Actually, its not just fertility rate, it’s any data from the World Bank World Development Indicators.  If I didn’t have other things to do (like blog) I think I could spend a whole day playing around with this.   Anyway, in some experimenting in class, we were all intrigued to find that North Korea, of all places, has a near identical fertility rate to the US (just over 2).  Though, as you can see below, it’s been a very different path:

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