Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Downton Abbey alternative

If you are a Downton Abbey fan, you'll definitely be interested in this documentary film produced several years ago by the BBC and now available on YouTube. Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs places the servant class of the Victorian Age in a larger historical context, recognizing for example the role of coercion and particularly the workhouse in generating this supply of highly exploitable workers. Also see Secrets from the Workhouse, which is narrated by Jim Carter (Carson of Downton Abbey).     .  

Sunday, January 26, 2014 interactive

The Economic Policy Institute recently created an interactive graphic,, that describes the extent of income inequality in the U.S., how it got so unequal, and offers tangible suggestions about what ordinary people can do to diminish it. The interactive also allows users to estimate the amount of actual income inequality and place their own earnings in the context of demographically similar populations. Animated videos narrated by former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, describe why such inequality has increased in recent decades.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

wealth addiction

Is "greed good" as declared by Gordon Gekko? Sam Polk's article in yesterday's New York Times suggests otherwise. In fact, he gives a candid account of the problem he had, attributing his own drive for money to "wealth addiction." Although he amassed a sizable fortune as a Wall Street trader a few years ago, he never felt he had enough. Personal introspection, with assistance from psychotherapy, led him to understand that his greed, and that of others in the industry, is essentially the same as that with drugs or alcohol. Polk has since left Wall Street for social activism, starting Groceryships, an organization working to promote nutrition education among poor families.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

perhaps power happy, but certainly happier!

A new Pew Research Center study confirms what many worker bees have long-assumed. The boss not only enjoys better pay and power at the workplace, he or she also has more satisfaction with family and is happier with life in general. These findings are consistent with earlier research (most famously established through the Whitehall study) that those in the upper reaches of work hierarchies, in comparison to their lower-status counterparts, experience less stress and are mentally and physically healthier, to boot.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

does money make you mean?

In this recent TED-Talk, UC Berkeley social psychologist, Paul Piff, provides research drawing from board game behavior that having wealth, even within a contrived situation, decreases concerned and caring behavior with regard to others. This research mirrors earlier findings of Piff reported in this blog regarding the relationship between wealth and socially irresponsible behavior (see ).  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

the clothes on your back

Several months ago, The Toronto Star published  a series of articles and videos on the global supply-production-consumption chain of clothing, The Clothes on Your Back. The series examines such interrelated topics as slave labor in Uzbekistan cotton fields, clothing production in Asian sweatshops--particularly involving child labor, and the current retail boom in Canada.