The intellectual justification for austerity lies in ruins. It turns out that Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff, who originally framed the argument that too high a “debt-to-GDP ratio” will always, necessarily, lead to economic contraction – and who had aggressively promoted it during Rogoff’s tenure as chief economist for the IMF –, had based their entire argument on a spreadsheet error. The premise behind the cuts turns out to be faulty. There is now no definite proof that high levels of debt necessarily lead to recession.
Will we, then, see a reversal of policy? A sea of mea culpas from politicians who have spent the last few years telling disabled pensioners to give up their bus passes and poor students to forgo college, all on the basis of a mistake? It seems unlikely. After all, as I and many others have long argued, austerity was never really an economic policy: ultimately, it was always about morality. We are talking about a politics of crime and punishment, sin and atonement. True, it’s never been particularly clear exactly what the original sin was: some combination, perhaps, of tax avoidance, laziness, benefit fraud and the election of irresponsible leaders. But in a larger sense, the message was that we were guilty of having dreamed of social security, humane working conditions, pensions, social and economic democracy.
The morality of debt has proved spectacularly good politics. It appears to work just as well whatever form it takes: fiscal sadism (Dutch and German voters really do believe that Greek, Spanish and Irish citizens are all, collectively, as they put it, “debt sinners”, and vow support for politicians willing to punish them) or fiscal masochism (middle-class Britons really will dutifully vote for candidates who tell them that government has been on a binge, that they must tighten their belts, it’ll be hard, but it’s something we can all do for the sake of our grandchildren). Politicians locate economic theories that provide flashy equations to justify the politics; their authors, like Rogoff, are celebrated as oracles; no one bothers to check if the numbers actually add up.
A visit to an abortion clinic is often a middle class girl’s only brush with the brusque, painful care that is the lot of America’s poor. The better funded go to private doctors. They get treatment that’s far more personal and less public. Proper pain killers, no protesters in sight, and your man holding your hand.
When Planned Parenthood opened offices in three shopping malls, Michele Bachmann fumed that women “are doing their grocery shopping, picking up Starbucks… and stopping off for an abortion.” Oh Michelle, if only it were that easy.
My abortion was when my politics become personal. Sure, one can march against the Iraq War. But it’s far more visceral to know that decaying politicians would force you to give birth. That 50 years ago they would have had you, you personally, die in pain and shame.
The ability to have an abortion is as important for women as the vote. It is the basis of fertile women living equal lives. As soon as I could, I raised a thousand dollars for Planned Parenthood. It felt like paying a debt.
What pulled me out of my depression was refusing to shut up. I talked about abortion with my girlfriends. With my acquaintances. With a bluntness that was probably uncomfortable and annoying in retrospect. What I found was that almost every woman I spoke to had had one too. Behind our sleek careers, our prettily painted faces, we had our blood and pain.
One out of three American women has had an abortion. But that’s a statistic, not a face. I’ve never spoken about my abortion publicly. It’s terrifying. One expects death threats, to be called a baby killer. One’s societal training is to be classy, be private, pretend your activism is on the behalf of others. Never let them see you bleed.
Never, ever tell your own story.
But silence, as much as anything, is why abortion’s such an easy target in America. Stories save lives.
“Empathize, but refuse to be terrorized. Instead, be indomitable — and support leaders who are as well. That’s how to defeat terrorists.”—Bruce Schneieronce again speaks sense. After the things that have happened what he asks of us is hard, but it is right.
On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.
Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.
I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.
Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.
The next time it happened was two weeks later in Montreal’s airport. After scanning my passport, without being asked a single question, I was immediately led to a back waiting room. When I was summoned into an office, the officer cut to the chase: “How much is he paying you to go on this trip?” He was referring to the man I was travelling with.
Confused, I just stared back at him for a few beats.
"N-nothing?" The next question was whether this man was married or not. The answer, unfortunately for me, was yes. He asked whether I was planning on sharing a hotel bed with this man. I’m not one to sugar coat things and decided that now would not be a particularly good time to be found lying. Again, I answered yes. Righteous, the officer demanded what exactly I was doing in a bed with a married man.
"That’s actually none of your business."
I had kicked the hornet’s nest. Inflamed, he raised his voice at me that it was his business and that adultery was a crime in America — a crime that he could deny me entry for. He made me tell him my partner’s name and date of birth and threatened to detain him, too. I pointed out that we would be in Miami for a total of forty minutes to catch our next flight to Aruba; hardly enough time to run to our gate, let alone commit adultery. The next thing I knew he was searching my bags, pulling out condoms and waving them in my face.
"I could have you charged with being a working girl! The proof is right here!" All I could do is shake my head. This can’t be real.
"This is absurd," I murmured. But he was on a roll.
"You want me to call his wife? I’ll tell her!"
I raised an eyebrow at him.
He stormed off again, leaving me shaking. When he finally emerged from an office, he held my passport and tickets in hand. He told me he was letting me go “this time” because I had told the truth. But that I was an educated woman and should change my life to reflect that. I blinked at him.
He looked at me meaningfully and repeated himself. I nodded, eyes downcast as if I was taking his moralizing into serious consideration, and took my documents. I was afraid that he would change his mind otherwise. Later, after a very short internet search, I found that adultery isn’t illegal in Florida, and even if I had been paid for the trip, mixing sexual and non-sexual activities constitutes a relationship and therefore makes any money exchanged a very legal gift under the law. Traveling together to Aruba to get away from cold Montreal, I would think, signals a non-sexual activity.
“1. Be raised with access to clean drinking water and sanitation. (Every tech billionaire I’ve ever spoken to has a toilet!)
2. Try to be born in a region that is politically and militarily stable.
3. Grow up with a family that is as steady and secure as possible.
4. Have access to at least a basic free education in core subjects.
5. Avoid being abused by family members, loved ones, friends or acquaintances during the formative years of your life.
6. Be fluent in English, or have time to dedicate to continuously improving your language skills.
7. Make sure there’s enough disposable income available to support your learning technology at a younger age.
8. If you must be a member of an underrepresented community or a woman, get comfortable with suppressing your identity. If not, follow a numbingly conventional definition of dominant masculinity.
9. Be within a narrow range of physical norms for appearance and ability, as defined by the comfort level of strangers.
10. Practice articulating your cultural, technological or social aspirations exclusively in economic terms.”—This top 10 list of tips to guarantee startup success, by Anil Dash, is by far the the most likely to help you achieve your startup dream than any other I have ever seen on the web.
I dove into a pile of laundry you had just dumped onto your bed. It smelled like a spring breeze. You jumped on top of me. You smelled like beauty. Our limbs intertwined and we kissed. We smelled like desire.
I have been chronicling a fictional relationship over at WhatWeDidToday.Us, and this is my favorite post so far.
In recent years, the male-dominated technology industry has made some important strides in gender equality. Yet only last week a woman of color, Adria Richards, was publicly fired from her job at technology company SendGrid, following a massive online campaign of rape and death threats, racial slurs, and computer hacking. Her crime? Tweeting a picture of the two men making sexual jokes behind her at a computer conference. (Shortly thereafter, one of the men was fired by his employer, who hinted at multiple contributing factors beyond the jokes.)
Reasonable people can disagree about whether Richards should have called out the two jokesters publicly or who, if anyone, should have been fired as a result. But one thing we can agree on is that the massive onslaught of rape and death threats that followed was wrong. One threat sent to Richards on Twitter was a picture of a bloody, beheaded woman with the caption “When Im done.”
Richards’ decision to tweet a photo of the men struck many people as an overreaction, but her actions make more sense in the context of the widespread hostility to women in her field, both online and offline. That hostility is one of the reasons I co-founded a nonprofit that fights harassment of women, the Ada Initiative, after one of my friends was sexually assaulted at a computer conference three times in a single year. The Ada Initiative’s first project was helping hundreds of conferences adopt anti-harassment policies that explicitly banned pornography in presentations, groping, stalking, and other obnoxious behavior that had become common at many technology conferences.
No one should treat people like this PERIOD. And good on Richards for publicly outing those guys making sexual jokes behind her, maybe if we all did exactly the same thing when we saw people being awful then people might think twice about being so awful.