Tag Archives: control

Are we ruining our children by micromanaging their lives?

20 Mar
Clemens Wergin and his family had just moved from Germany to America, where he’d taken a new job. On the family’s first day here his 8 year-old daughter slipped out to explore the neighborhood. Writing in The New York Times, he tells us that, when she’d returned, “Beaming with pride, she told us and her older sister how she had discovered the little park around the corner, and had made friends with a few local dog owners.” It seems, though, that their new American friends “are horrified by the idea that their children might roam around without adult supervision.” He goes on to point out that:
In Berlin, where we lived in the center of town, our girls would ride the Metro on their own — a no-no in Washington. Or they’d go alone to the playground, or walk a mile to a piano lesson. Here in quiet and traffic-safe suburban Washington, they don’t even find other kids on the street to play with. On Halloween, when everybody was out to trick or treat, we were surprised by how many children actually lived here whom we had never seen.
A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that American kids spend 90 percent of their leisure time at home, often in front of the TV or playing video games. Even when kids are physically active, they are watched closely by adults, either in school, at home, at afternoon activities or in the car, shuttling them from place to place.
Such narrowing of the child’s world has happened across the developed world. But Germany is generally much more accepting of letting children take some risks. To this German parent, it seems that America’s middle class has taken overprotective parenting to a new level, with the government acting as a super nanny.
Just take the case of 10-year-old Rafi and 6-year-old Dvora Meitiv, siblings in Silver Spring, Md., who were picked up in December by the police because their parents had dared to allow them to walk home from the park alone. For trying to make them more independent, their parents were found guilty by the state’s Child Protective Services of “unsubstantiated child neglect.” What had been the norm a generation ago, that kids would enjoy a measure of autonomy after school, is now seen as almost a crime.
Danah boyd discusses the same phenomenon in It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Yale UP 2014), where it’s the flip side of intense use of social media by teens.

Is that where the modern world is headed, to lives controlled by authority where action is limited to choosing which media channel to consume? Are we preparing to turn ourselves over to our computer overlords?

One in four US workers are “guard labor” | Phil Ebersole’s Blog

26 Apr

One fourth of the American work force is employed in “guard labor”, not producing anything themselves, but keeping the actual workers in line, according to a studies by economists Samuel Bowles of the Santa Fe Institute and Arjun Jayadev of the University of Massachusetts.    Comparing nations, they reported that the greater the amount of inequality in a society, the higher the percentage employed in guard labor.

via One in four US workers are “guard labor” | Phil Ebersole’s Blog.

Global Warming Isn’t Going Away

9 Jul

“Our Friend the Atom” and He is Us

18 Mar

One idea that I’ve seen here and there in discussions of the nuclear emergency in Japan goes like this: “Why the coverage of the nukes? After all, thousands have already died from the earthquake and tsunami, 100s of thousands are homeless, and whole towns have been wiped away. All that damage far exceeds anything so far caused by those collapsed plants and any damage likely to be caused by them. Why not more coverage of the big story?”

The question, I believe, is a good one. And the answer, I suspect, goes like this: The earthquake and the tsunami were caused by Nature. We can take preventive measures, but we can’t predict or control them (though we’re working on prediction). Those atomic plants, however, they are Us. To say we can’t control them is to say that we can’t control ourselves. If we can’t control ourselves, are we any better than animals?

The issue of control is crucial. The difference between an atomic explosion and an atomic power plant is one of control: WE CONTROL what happens in the power plant. We can turn it on, turn it off, and make it go faster or slower. It does our bidding. Of course, it also creates dangerous radiation, which we must control. If we don’t, the radiation causes disease, cancer, mutations, strange unnatural beings, monsters (Gojira).

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