A Reading Assortment for 11/11/11

  • Occupy Harvard's signs say "We want a university for the 99 percent!"  Umm, where I come from, we call those "state schools." #justsaying 
  • The U.S. Census reports that half of working women have no paid maternity leave. And guess whose jobs are least likely to offer paid leave? The 50 percent who need it most. Hope Yen's article for the AP includes this:

Lower-educated mothers are nearly four times more likely than college graduates to be denied paid maternity benefits. That’s the widest gap over the past 50 years.

Women with no more than a high-school diploma saw drop-offs in paid-leave benefits from the early 2000s to the period covering 2006 to 2008, which includes the first year of the recession....

The analysis highlights the patchwork of work-family arrangements in the U.S., which lacks a federal policy on paid parental leave, unlike most other countries. There’s a longer-term trend of widening U.S. income inequality caused by slowing wage growth at the middle- and lower-income levels.... If first-time mothers don’t receive paid-leave benefits, they often return to their jobs quickly after giving birth, or sacrifice a steady paycheck by taking unpaid leave or quitting to spend more time with their newborns.

What that really means is that their children are less likely to be breast-fed, which helps long-term health. And they're disadvantaged in other ways that will perpetuate inequality. I don't mean to laugh at the Harvard protesters' deeper message. We say that we live in a meritocracy, but only those who already have advantages are likely to be able to boost their children into the "meritocracy's" well-off echelons.

  • Robin Marty at Care.com reports that, in Indiana, a woman who tried to kill herself by taking rat poison has been in prison for eight months for feticide.

Shuai, who had taken poison after an emotional breakup, said she was trying to kill herself, but when she told her friends what she had done, they convinced her to go to the hospital instead.  Once there, she gave birth to her daughter prematurely, and the baby was put on life support.  On January 3rd, 2011, “Angel” died.

That's certainly a way to encourage women to seek mental and physical help when they're so despairing they lose their minds: clap 'em in jail.