Monday, June 29, 2009
I was invited to give a talk to the Kiwanis Club of San Francisco and asked what I wanted to talk about. I replied, "I'd like to talk about how, today, boys and men are treated unfairly relative to their merit."
The response from its program chair, who also is active in the feminist organization, Girls, Inc.: That will be acceptable only if the presentation is "positive," objective," and "non-incendiary."
I was expected to be "positive, objective, and non-incendiary" about, for example, that men die 5 1/2 years earlier than woman, and earlier of all ten of the top ten killers yet, over the last 50 years, 98% of the gender-specific medical research has been done on women? I was expected to be "positive, objective, and non-incendiary" about the fact that boys fail, drop out, and commit suicide at two to four times the rate of girls, yet most gender-specific programs are aimed at helping girls--unless you count as helping boys putting huge numbers of active boys on a Ritalin leash?
If women had been restricted to only being "positive," "objective," and "non-incendiary," the feminist movement might never have taken off. What moved women were not just academic tomes but passionate calls to action. And indeed, women were and are still allowed even praised for excesses in their calls for fair treatment for women. For example, I recall Andrea Dworkin's proclamation in her writings and speeches that all sexual intercourse is coercive and degrading to women. She wrote, for example, in her book, Intercourse, "Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women."
Not only was Dworkin not excoriated, she was given platforms for her work that 99.99% of writers can only dream of: ten books published by prestigious publishers, at least some of which were reviewed in such publications as the New York Times, plus live appearances everywhere from Duke University to The Donahue Show.
Lest you think Dworkin is an isolated example of feminist excess, consider these quotes from icons of the women's movement:
Germaine Greer: "As far as I'm concerned, men are the product of a damaged gene."
Marilyn French (author of the iconic feminist book, The Women's Room): "All men are rapists and that's all they are."
Barbara Jordan (esteemed congressperson): "I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which (sic) a man structurally does not have, does not have it because he cannot have it. He's just incapable of it."
And of course there are the book titles, for example, such bestsellers as, Are Men Necessary?, by New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd and Why Women Should Rule the World by former Bill Clinton press secretary and now sought-after TV talking head, Dee Dee Myers.
Of course, Kiwanis' muzzling me is, in itself, trivial. But that is just the latest in a generation of censorship that even moderate, female-friendly men's/boys advocates like me suffer whenever we dare raise a question about the current orthodoxy that women and minorities are mere victims of a racist and sexist white male hegemony.
For example, readers of this blog may recall that less than two weeks ago, in my sadness at education leaders' failure to close the black/white-Asian achievement gap and their unwillingness to state more than vague platitudes, I reposted a teacher's report of his experience in teaching a largely African-American high school.
I immediately received an inquiry from a fellow journalist who after quickly saying, "I don't want to do gotcha journalism but..." implied I was being racist in reposting it, asking me endless questions to prove I wasn't a racist. I believe I was able to assure him that my motives were benevolent and, to date, he has not published an article about me but such an interrogation--from a fellow journalist no less--certainly has a chilling effect on my willingness to post politically incorrect thoughts no matter how benevolently derived.
Among my most deeply held beliefs is that society is best when the free and open exchange of benevolently derived ideas is not only tolerated but encouraged. Today, society's major educators--the schools, colleges, and media--too often discourage that. When even Kiwanis censors politically incorrect thought, we're in trouble.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A large percentage of college students graduate with a social science or humanities major, assuaged by colleges' sales pitches for liberal arts majors. But a front-page piece in today's New York Times on where the jobs are may give you pause.
Many of the jobs promising good pay and solid job prospects even in bad times require no more than a vocational (not college prep) high school diploma plus on-the-job training. None of those listed require a graduate degree. Here are the key quotes from that article:
"Employers are begging for qualified applicants for certain occupations...Welder is one, employers report. Critical care nurse is another. Electrical lineman is yet another, particularly those skilled in stringing high-voltage wires across the landscape. Special education teachers are in demand. (This does require some modest graduate training). So are geotechnical engineers, trained in geology as well as engineering, a combination sought for oil field work. Respiratory therapists, who help the ill breathe, are not easily found, at least not by the Permanente Medical Group, which employs more than 30,000 health professionals. And with infrastructure spending now on the rise, (experienced) civil engineers are in demand to supervise the work.""For these hard-to-fill jobs, there seems to be a common denominator. Employers are looking for people who have acquired an exacting skill, first through education — often just high school vocational training — and then by honing it on the job. (emphasis mine.) That trajectory, requiring years, is no longer so easy in America, said Richard Sennett, a New York University sociologist. The pressure to earn a bachelor’s degree draws young people away from occupational training, particularly occupations that do not require college, Mr. Sennett said."
"The Conference Board breaks the advertised (job) openings into 22 broad occupational categories and compares those with the number of unemployed whose last job, according to the bureau, was in each category. In only four of the categories — architecture and engineering, the physical sciences, computer and mathematical science (I assume a graduate degree is required for some of the physical and mathematical science job openings,) and health care — were the unemployed equal to or fewer than the listed job openings. There were, in sum, 1.09 million listed openings and only 582,700 unemployed people presumably available to fill them."“'Until the downturn, it was easy for experienced registered nurses to find employment right in their communities, in whatever positions they wanted,' Ms. Peterson said. 'Now it is a little more difficult because the number of job openings has fallen and we have more retired nurses, in need of income, coming back.”That does not hold for nurses who have a decade of experience caring for critically ill people, particularly in hospital recovery rooms, said Dr. Robert Pearl, chief executive and chairman of the Permanente Medical Group, a big employer of medical professionals. “There are probably more nurses recently trained than there are jobs for them,' he said, 'but for those with the highest level of skill and experience, there are always openings.' And at $100,000 in pay."
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Many of those men still with jobs are working longer, harder, faster to avoid being axed in the next round. So ever more men are coming home exhausted, often after inordinately stressful jobs. Careercast.com, using Department of Labor data found that all eight of the most stressful careers are male-dominated.)
Yet their wives and/or society often chastise men for not spending enough time on domestic chores or with kids, often even in situations in which the woman pressured the guy into having kids or failed to use birth control, deliberately or not.
How can an exhausted guy still be a good dad? My two favorites are:
- Hanging out. Even if you're just vegging out, ask your kid if you could hang out in their room with them.
- Ask good questions regularly. For example, don't just ask, "What did you do in school today?" and accept "nothing." Follow up with a question such as, "Well, did anything make you happy, sad, proud, scared, angry?" Then be a good listener, asking follow-up questions. Even if you get nothing five nights in a row, your child expecting that you'll continue to ask will keep your child's antennae out for things to talk with you about.
- Warren Farrell, author of Father and Child Reunion, also suggests that roughhousing with your kids will be fun for the kid and reenergizing for the dad.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
That question was posted on the career counselors' Yahoo! group of which I'm a member and here were the responses:
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Think about that: It takes 2-3 years of time, lost income, plus a fortune in tuition to get an MBA--usually filled with theory and real-world-irrelevant cases--and little more than half the new graduates have a job?
And if the trend continues, the employment picture for MBAs will be even worse. Before signing up, caveat emptor!
But in today's era in which it's hard to find a career you can enter in midlife that offers stable, well-benefited employment with steady promotion opportunities, I thought I'd provide you with the link to the piece in today's New York Times that reports that the Army has raised its recruiting age limit to 42.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Today, I was, however, heartened to find support in, of all places, the New York Times (June 7.) (Thank you, John Willson for pointing me to it.)
Alas, that article is but a hand trying to stop an accelerating tidal wave of amen media, and in turn the public, holy rolling to its deity Obama.
America is in rapture with a communications machine. And until it somehow becomes more interested in facts than in meticulously engineered propaganda, we will get the change we deserve.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
You're probably sick of my writing in my blog and elsewhere about the need to reinvent America's most overrated, overpriced product and icon: higher education.
For example, see my Chronicle of Higher Education article, America's Most Overrated Product: The Bachelors Degree.
So let me call your attention to someone else's work. Don Tapscott proposes what I think would be an excellent core for higher education's reinvention: replacing the professor with the Internet as the hub of learning. He makes that case in The Impending Demise of the University, which appeared first in The Edge and then summarized in today's Huffington Post.
Yet President Obama doesn't insist that colleges be more accountable or cost-effective. Instead he demands that we spend yet more of our tax dollars to increase student financial aid, which in fact, ends up putting money in college coffers while offering little help to students: Increased financial aid allows colleges to calculate, "Good! Now the students have more money, so we can raise tuition."
Of course, no one should be required to endure frequent yelling but poor delivery doesn't mean the dissatisfaction is unjustified.
If a boss or coworker is frequently dissatisfied with you (whether expressed calmly or forcefully,) separate the message from the messenger. Be honest with yourself: Are you as competent, hard-working, and pleasant to be around as you should be?
Not sure? Ask for anonymous feedback from co-workers, supervisors, customers, vendors, even family. As mentioned in an earlier post, www.checkster.com makes that easy to obtain.
My wish though is that a woman, who, like my daughter, whose work would likely yield more benefit than if most of her peers did it (She's a quite brilliant and hard-working assistant U.S. attorney in the Justice Dept. in D.C. and whom I could see becoming an outstanding liberal but very fair judge or senior Justice Department official) will have the social conscience to realize that her life will have been more worthwhile if she worked hard at her job and that doing so will not harm her child or spouse. Indeed, for reasons, I've written about previously, they may benefit.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Getting Promoted During a Recession is one of a series of 90-second career musts videos I did recently as part of my work as Contributing Editor for career matters at U.S. News & World Report.
Ahead-of-the-Pack Job Interviewing is one of a series of 90-second career musts videos I did recently as part of my work as Contributing Editor for career matters at U.S. News & World Report.
Ahead-of-the-Pack Resumes is one of a series of 90-second career musts videos I did recently as part of my work as Contributing Editor for career matters at U.S. News & World Report.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
But the young are, well, too young, to feel much nostalgia. At commencement ceremonies, many mainly feel bored: "I can't wait for it to be over. I'm starved."
I've written often on reinventing education but not heretofore on education's capstone. Here's my vision for Commencement 2.0.
- Every graduate, as she or he crossed the stage to get the diploma, would give a one Twitter-length (less than 140 characters) speech. The audience would be encouraged to tweet each other about it in real-time.
(To avoid the ceremony being longer than an hour, if there were more than 100 graduates, there would be a separate ceremony for graduates within each of a university's colleges or majors. In a large high school, there'd be a ceremony for each academic subject. Each student would attend the ceremony of his or her favorite subject.)
- One non-graduate would get to give a blog-post-length (200 words ) speech.
- All the above would be enshrined on a monument to be prominently placed on campus. (or if a virtual university, on its website.)
Friday, June 5, 2009
If I were drafting the Republican Party's platform, these would be its central planks:
Schools and colleges must issue a report card on themselves. Today, schools and especially colleges get away with terrible-quality teaching and have essentially no accountability to students. Every school and college should be required to prominently issue a report card on itself (spot-checked by government) to prospective students and their parents. The School Report Card would report (on an A to F scale):
- How much growth in reading, math, thinking, etc. its students make--broken out by initial achievement level.
- Graduation rate. The report released two days ago by the American Enterprise Institute shows the shockingly low percentage of college freshmen who graduate if even given six(!) years--it averages only 53% across so-called four-year colleges, but even that is misleadingly high because the most selective 100 of the nation's 1600 "four-year" colleges have extraordinarily high graduation rates--because they accept mainly superstar students.
- The results of a customer satisfaction survey, in which students (and in the case of K-12 students, parents) rate the quality of the school's teachers, curriculum, campus climate, and extracurricular activities.
The New Republicans will create a nation of entrepreneurs. If we're being honest, American manufacturing and even most services will never be able to compete with low-cost countries such as China and India. And businesses need ever fewer and fewer locally based knowledge workers, creatives, and leaders, in part because ever more work product can be transmitted over the Internet and because services such as GotoMeeting, WebEx, and Skype are making worldwide virtual corporations ever more viable. Sure, short-term, our tax dollars can create government jobs for such workers but with other countries successfully competing with us, there will be fewer tax dollars to pay those government workers.
The only way to create sustainable, good jobs is to create new, important products and services. And key to that is entrepreneurship: a nation of people trained to keep their antennae out for unmet needs and with the skills to convert those unmet needs into viable businesses, those that can make money without cutting ethical corners and which can afford to pay their workers a decent wage
The plan to create a nation of entrepreneurs has two components: 1. Make entrepreneurship a required subject in school and college. It's far more important that every high school graduate have entrepreneurial skills than that they know the use of the doppelganger, quadratic equations, stoichiometry, and the causes of the Peloponnesian Wars. 2. Increase the quantity and quality of Small Business Administration- and private-sector-offerings: business-plan and business-operations courses, and the use of current and retired successful entrepreneurs as mentors for aspiring and ongoing entrepreneurs.
True Freedom. Republicans like to paint their party as the party of freedom yet many want to restrict women's rights to choose if and when to have a baby and whether gay people have the right to marry. Internationally, the Republicans (as well as many Democrats) tend to meddle in countries that choose to have a government it doesn't like--whether Latin American countries on the left or right-wing regimes in the Middle East. The New Republicans must respect that it is not their way or the highway. They need to honor the libertarian wing of its party so that it is not hypocritical when it calls itself the party of freedom.
Health care is a right but the same level of health care is not a right. I believe that, by virtue of being human, everyone is entitled to basic health care: preventive and routine diagnosis and treatment by a nurse or nurse practitioner not of one's choice, expensive specialist-physicians and treatments only when clearly cost-effective, etc. If you pay--whether fee-for-service or into a new single-payer government-run system--you're entitled to choose a physician, more readily get to see specialists, and have access to a fuller range of treatments, even those which, from a population-wide perspective, may not be cost-effective.
The New Republicans will treat taxpayer money as carefully as their personal money. The government, Republicans and Democrats alike, spend taxpayer dollars as though it can always print more. (Whoops, it can.) The problem is that when you print more money, each of our dollars are worth less, so we have less buying power, our savings are worth less, and our children's future is mortgaged. And if we keep diving deeper into debt, America's credit-worthiness withers, which means that the mammoth cost of servicing our debt will continue to grow and eventually no one (read, China) will lend to us.
The New Republican Party must treat taxpayer money as if it were its personal money. That means fewer and more tightly-budgeted projects, and importantly, requiring good evidence of cost-benefit before spending. For example, the Democrats are massively funding efforts to control global climate with little regard to cost-effectiveness. So many respected climate scientists remain uncertain that even the unimaginably expensive efforts and painful restrictions being enacted and contemplated will make much difference. Too little attention is being paid to cost-benefit and risk-reward. You and I don't go into great debt on wildly expensive, risky schemes. Neither should the government with our tax dollars.
What do you think? If you were drafting the planks of a new Republican platform, would you include the aforementioned? What changes would you make in them?
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Government Can't Run a Brothel
By Wayne Allyn Root
So we've just put government in control of General Motors? Well that should solve the problem. The same people that have run the American economy into the ground now think they can run an auto company. Has anyone thought this through? Government loses money at virtually everything it does and touches. Virtually every level of government operates at a loss (deficit). Government can't spell, let alone achieve, profitability at anything. Government is the most disastrous and inept failure at everything it does of any organization in the world. It only survives its colossal mismanagement of everything by raising taxes and therefore confiscating more money from the private sector- filled with people who are competent and do know how to run a business and achieve profitability. In other words, government only survives by confiscating money from smart people in the private sector to pay for its mismanagement, waste, corruption and nonstop failure and losses.
Government runs Social Security. It is fast approaching bankruptcy. Government runs Medicare. It is fast approaching bankruptcy. Government runs education. Education runs through tens of billions of dollars each year and yet somehow manages to produce worse results virtually every year (and always demands more as a reward for utter failure). When government took over education,
Government took over Amtrak in the same way it took over GM, promising a quick return to profitability. Amtrak bleeds losses every year for the
Government is promising (again) a quick return to profitability. Yet these are the same government bureaucrats who have produced a deficit of $1.75 trillion per YEAR. These same government bureaucrats have produced a national debt of somewhere between $60 trillion and $100 trillion (depending on how many years out you predict the responsibilities of Social Security and Medicare). Our national debt is now larger than world GDP (every dollar created in the world each year). You actually think these same people (with the track record above) can takeover GM and turn a company that loses billions per year into a profitable company in a short period of time? We've now put the world's most inept and corrupt bureaucrats in charge of GM, and we expect improvement?
But here's the clincher. In my adopted home state of
One more “small problem” with the government's plans for GM. They are keeping unions in charge. Virtually nothing has changed. The same unions that destroyed GM with bloated salaries, pensions and healthcare for life go on running the workforce (with a few small changes for “show”). Yet the government is also demanding that GM change strategy and focus on building small cars with green technology. Those same smaller cars are the least profitable that can be built. There is very little profit per car. The big gas guzzling cars and trucks actually had the highest profit margin. Yet even these big trucks and SUV's could not pay for the bloated union compensation plan that destroyed GM and Chrysler. Now we have the worst of all worlds- companies run by Obama and his minions- all people with ZERO business experience- demanding that we keep paying unaffordable union wages, while we build small cars with lower profit margins. Are you starting to understand why our country is $100 trillion in national debt? Our country is run by people who couldn't run a lemonade stand. The only thing that Obama and his hand-picked executives are capable of doing successfully is fining or arresting the lemonade stand owner for not getting the proper government licenses.
The moral of the story?
Monday, June 1, 2009
How to Change the World: Practical Blog for Impractical people." http://blog.guykawasaki.com. Guy is a master at using tech tools such as Twitter and LInkedIn to abet your career. He also comments about and links to the best new career/biz-related books, e.g., What I Wish I knew when I was 20." and In Pursuit of Elegance.
Gary Hamel's Management 2.0. http://blogs.wsj.com/management. Recent post titles in this Wall Street Journal blog: Empowering Natural Leaders in
startupnation.com/blogs. A multiple-author blog, this one is gratefully career counselor-free. Instead of their usually too generic advice (network, feel the fear and do it anyway, etc.) this site is long on practical specifics. Recent posts: Help for Small Biz: SBA Backs Interest-Free Loans, how Merchant Services Work, 15 Questions to Measure the Strength of Your Home Biz.
TheChinaObserver.com. I believe this is the rise of the Chinese empire and the fall of the American. Chinaobserver.com is my first-choice blog for figuring out how people outside of
Allthingsworkplace.com. Recent posts: Are You Really Developing Leaders, Which Comes First: Job Performance or Job Satisfaction, Four Tips for Presenting at the Meeting Table, Speaking? Three Ways to Satisfy Your Audience.
ben.casnocha.com. Ben Casnocha is the smartest (and nicest) young business-oriented guy I know. His blog shares his musings about business and entrepreneurship. He's especially good at questioning conventional wisdom.
Businesspundit.com. Recent posts: Accrual accounting for non-accountants, 25 businessmen who broke the rules (and some laws), 25 Well-Paying Jobs Most People Overlook (and why.)
Science blog + genetics. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog+genetics. I'm betting that genetics will do more to help the world (and create lots of great jobs) than any other innovation. Written in plain English, this blog would keep me current, easily.
Hit and Run. Reason.com/blog. When I start to think I'm crazy for being nervous about the mammoth transfer of jobs from the private sector to the government and government-mandated sector, I get a reality check from this intelligent libertarian-leaning site.
Marty Nemko. martynemko.blogspot.com. You'll hate me for saying this but I truly believe this blog has the most useful advice on most topics related to advancing your career, for example, salary negotiation, overcoming procrastination, managing anger, succeeding in small business. Yes, you'll have to click "career advice" on my tag cloud to avoid having to read my posts on politics (libertarian-leaning,) race (reverse discrimination is rampant,) and men's issues (men are treated poorly relative to their merit,) but I think you'll find that worth it.