Tag Archives: Politics

A Roundup of the Government Shutdown

Congress voted to repeal the affordable care act dozens of times. Yet, with 15.4 percent of Americans uninsured, there needs to be a discussion around health insurance.

However, instead of a discussion about health care, the government was shut down. A 72% majority of Americans disapprove of the government shutdown.

Here are just a few of the impacted agencies that have been impacted by the government shutdown.

The redirect for the Women Infants Children Program (WIC) website

The redirect for the Women Infants Children Program (WIC) website

NASA

The redirect for the NASA website

A message from Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency. The shutdown of US government is having impacts in countries outside of the US.

A message from Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency. The shutdown of US government is having impacts in countries outside of the US.

A message from NOAA

A message from NOAA

The National Parks are closed.

The National Parks are closed.

The National Institute of Standards (that place that oversees the atomic clock as well as other cool research) is closed.

The National Institute of Standards (that place that oversees the atomic clock as well as other cool research) is closed.

The department of education is also shut down.

The department of education is also shut down.

Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Veterans Affairs: "The President, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the administration strongly believe that a lapse in appropriations should not have occurred on October 1, 2013"

Department of Veterans Affairs: “The President, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the administration strongly believe that a lapse in appropriations should not have occurred on October 1, 2013”

Department of Transportation

Department of Transportation

National Institutes of Health: "Research into life-threatening diseases and other areas will stop, and new patients won't be accepted into clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health."

National Institutes of Health: “Research into life-threatening diseases and other areas will stop, and new patients won’t be accepted into clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.”

Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Protection Agency

Small Business Innovation Research website

Small Business Innovation Research website

Department of Energy

Department of Energy

National Science Foundation

National Science Foundation

Jet Propulsion Laboratories

Jet Propulsion Laboratories

Meanwhile, Colorado has to pay the National Guard using state funds so that 200 miles of state highways can begin to be repaired, and some members of congress are still accepting salaries during the government shutdown.

NSF Science Must “Directly Benefit the American People”

LamarSmith

It already does, but Representative Lamar Smith thinks that there are many scientists that are schemers out to steal money from the government. In fact, he decided to pick out a few projects that didn’t interest him to use as examples of how NSF just throws money to “useless” research.

Additionally, he would like Congress to get involved in the peer review process, because congress has such great track record of being efficient and solving problems. When we start moving away from the peer review process, and into the “I am judging this research based on my feelings, even though I am a politician and not a scientist” process, problems arise. Scientists work very hard to convey research to the public as well as agencies such as NSF. However, many fields go into such intricate detail that it is necessary to have other people in the field review the scientific project proposed. Many researchers are adding a tiny grain of sand to the astoundingly large world of research. Some research leads to things that we don’t notice like an improved polymer, or a tiny addition to a huge model of the climate, or a small statistical study that opens up new questions about the ways in which we are currently running our society.

Lamar Smith is a climate change critic, a trendy thing in the Republican Party. This goes to show that he is not spending a lot of time delving into the research itself, and attempting to understand it. I am happy that he at least read through some of the NSF proposals, but what he should really spend time doing is reading some of the peer reviewed papers that have come out of research, and the citations of those papers.

No, actually a gun isn’t going to protect me from rape

**Trigger warning for discussion of rape incidents and victim blaming

One of the perks of being an undergrad at my university was that every time there was a police report about a rape or sexual assault in a dark ally, a university wide email would go out with tips on how not to get raped. The emails contained very “useful” information like “don’t walk around alone at night.” Giving women tips on how not to get raped seems to be a popular thing to do these days.

The only issue is that it is absolutely useless and ridiculous. For most women, these tips are just a routine part of life, not new advice. Many of us try our damned hardest not to put ourselves in any situation where we would be “at fault” for getting raped. Even though most rapes don’t occur from strangers in the dark night, we still follow the unwritten law that darkness and alone are a bad combination for women, as we are told this again and again. It goes to the extent where some women at my university avoid late night study groups or review sessions just to avoid getting stuck having to get home late at night. Sending out an email to all of us telling us something so useless is just demeaning.

This leads me to my next point on victim blaming. It’s the self-defense argument. Recently there has been a lot of gun hype on my current university campus in addition to the huge hype that is in the media about gun control. Those who have a conceal and carry permit are now allowed to carry guns on my campus. There was an article about it the local paper, and a female student was interviewed. She said it was important for her to carry a gun because she had a late evening class and had to walk home alone. I can understand her fear, and I am sure it is empowering to feel that you are defending yourself. In fact, as female students, we are usually bombarded with advice telling us not to walk alone at night, so I can see when there is a glimmer of hope where we might be able to ignore this unwritten rule, it would be taken up. However, I don’t think a gun solves the problem of rape. It doesn’t even come close.

~~~

Victim Blaming

What finally triggered me to write this article was a picture going around in response to the comment made by Joe Salazar. A male friend posted it. Not only is it a disgusting image of a woman being victimized, it gives the wrong impression that guns magically ward away all rape. The image is shown below.

CLICK THIS LINK TO SEE IMAGE.

[Trigger Warning, image contains depiction of sexual assault]

The real rape statistics

The things I want to say to people passing this picture and similar ideas around

I want to ask the supporters of this image some questions about rape, since they seem to think rape can be used as a valiant argument for gun owners.

Just how often do you think rape occurs in a dark alley from some scary stranger? If I am walking alone at night and there is some guy walking behind me, should I reach into my purse and put my hand on my gun just in case? What if a man is walking towards me? Should I pull out my gun to let him know that I am not going to get raped tonight? After all, I probably wouldn’t know that he was out to rape me until it was too late.

How would you feel if you were walking down the street, and you walk up to some woman to ask her directions and she reaches into her purse to make sure she has her gun handy? After all, if she doesn’t, and you happen to be a rapist, it would be her fault for not trying to defend herself, right?

But let’s just throw that whole random stranger thing away for a minute. In a recent CDC report, only 13.8% of women who have been victims of rape reported that it was from a stranger. Now consider that a percentage of these stranger rapes were committed in situations where the victim was drugged or incapacitated and would not have the ability to defend themselves with a gun. In the small percentage that is left over, how often do you think a gun would really work? This article contains two stories of gun owners who were victims of rape. (Trigger Warning for the link).

Now, let’s talk about the 86.2% of rapes that are committed by someone that the victim knows. Do you really think women are going to make sure their gun is right on them when they are hanging out with an acquaintance? Furthermore, even if a female is carrying a gun on her, do you think if her acquaintance is making a move on her that she is going to shoot first and ask questions later? Don’t you think maybe she might be trying to process the situation instead, or be trying to think of ways to decline her acquaintance, or be in a state of shock or disbelief?

I don’t believe I know anyone who would be able to shoot a perceived friend that is trying to rape them. Not only because of the victim is trying to process the situation and determine what exactly is happening, but also because murder to most people seems like a very last resort, like something that would be used in a situation where if you don’t shoot now you will be killed immediately. Furthermore, as a society, we don’t deem rape as a very bad crime. The time done in jail is relatively short, and it definitely does not come anywhere near a death sentence. In fact, rape is so difficult to prove that it is estimated only 3% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. Using those statistics, can you imagine how difficult it would be for a woman to prove she was trying to defend herself against a potential rapist she shot at, who had not yet committed rape?

~~~

Guns might be a way for you to put your mind at ease when you are walking home, but in the end, rape is not some simple scene from a bad action film where a rapist jumps up behind an armed women with a gun already in hand, ready and loaded.

The reason we have rape is not because women aren’t defending themselves, or walking alone at night. The reason we have rape is because we have rapists.

Are Women Valued Less for the Same Work? Part 2: Wage Gap

The wage gap seems to be something that is thrown around a lot these days. There is the famous statistic that women make 79 cents of the dollar that every man makes. The straight comparison is concerning, but is it realistic?

The Skeptics

There are arguments against the 79% statistic. This video link sums up many of the arguments out there. These range from women choosing lower paying jobs to women having babies and wanting more time to spend with the kids. Yes, there are women who choose to work part time to spend more time with kids. There is nothing wrong with choosing to spend more time raising children, although we should be more accepting of men who choose this route as well. Certainly, the female role in the family may account for some of the wage gap, but can we assume it fixes everything?

A More Realistic Comparison

A recent study compares male and female college graduates one year out of college. This is a demographic where child rearing is not yet a large factor in career choices. Still, just one year out of college, female students were earning 82% of what male students were earning. Now, I know what you are thinking. The women chose lower paying majors and the men chose higher paying career paths just as many skeptics argue, right? Wrong! In fact this was a wage gap that was seen across all disciplines, even the female dominated field of education.

In a study by PayScale, the salaries of men and women were compared. A wage gap was clear between the two, but then adjustments were made for hundreds of factors. These adjustments allowed for a more reasonable comparison, for instance a male nurse and a female nurse at the same work level, or two engineers at the same level. These adjustments actually did correct for the wage gap in lower level jobs, but there is still a distinct wage gap in high-level management positions. Women who have made it to the top make 87% of what men do, and there do not seem to be factors which account for this.

Promotions

There is more to the story though. When adjustments are made for an apples to apples comparison, it accounts for people at the same job level. Where a contributor to the wage gap may lie is in promotions and specific positions. For example, engineering companies have very specific engineer levels and pay grades within those levels based on numerous factors. Of course if you compare a male and a female at the same engineer level and pay grade they would be paid exactly the same. Where the problem may lie is that women and men are not climbing the pay grades at the same rate. Could women be promoted to higher up positions less often than men? A great piece in the Economist discusses how women are actually far and few between in executive and CEO positions.

There are probably many factors that lead to differences in pay and women making it to higher paying positions. Still, it makes one stop and ask, “Why are there still differences?”