1. The good old US of A is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave. Without a federal mandate, guess who gets the best deals for paid sick leave? Men, married people, and those who are more affluent. Check out these stats about eligibility for paid sick leave: 71% of men and 57% of women; 82% of high-income earners (more than $80,000) compared to 30% of low-income (less than $20,000); 71% of the married and only 52% of the unmarried; 76% who have a post-graduate degree and 11% with less than high school education. Seems kind of immoral to me. (Data source: National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, June 2010 poll, cited in Ms. magazine.)
2. A curious sad truth: “When faced with the circumstances that reveal human vulnerability, people have two choices: they can determine that the world is an unjust place, or they can decide that the victims must somehow be responsible for their suffering.” Guess what happens a lot: blame the victim.
And psychological research proves that those who believe that the world is fair are those “most likely to reconcile their distress about unearned suffering by blaming the victims.” Yes, you heard right: those who believe that the world is fair blame the victims of suffering for their own suffering.
But it gets worse: Believing in a just world actually encourages “support of political agendas focused on individual effort rather than structural change – like blaming the poor for having an insufficient work ethic.” Or building walls to keep people out.
We need to stop the fear mongering of our political parties. We need to quit blaming the victims. Instead, we need to work together and fight for fairness and justice. Read this marvelous article in the May 31, 2010 issue of The Nation, “Believing in Justice, Blaming the Victim,” by Melissa Harris-Lacewell.