Tuesday, January 10, 2012

They Asked For It


According to the [Just World Theory] hypothesis, people have a strong desire or need to believe that the world is an orderly, predictable, and just place, where people get what they deserve. Such a belief plays an important function in our lives since in order to plan our lives or achieve our goals we need to assume that our actions will have predictable consequences....
Ironically, then, the belief in a just world may take the place of a genuine commitment to justice. For some people, it is simply easier to assume that forces beyond their control mete out justice. When that occurs, the result may be the abdication of personal responsibility, acquiescence in the face of suffering and misfortune, and indifference towards injustice. Taken to the extreme, indifference can result in the institutionalization of injustice.
In a world filled with horrible stories of human suffering, there is, according to the summary above, a thought process that says that people get what they deserve.  The opposite thinking is that people are innocent victims of circumstances.

Below are some situations that are uncomfortable to discuss, but exemplify the problems associated with broad-brushed positions.  In all of these examples, people were hurt or killed, so this is not an attempt to trivialize that.  It is, rather, an attempt to show that how these situations are perceived are subject to bias and context.

These are examples, in a Just World, of people who get what they deserve:
  • women who get raped because they went to a bar wearing skimpy, sexually provocative clothing, picked up a stranger and got in his car
  • high-school dropouts who cannot get a job and don't have the resources to improve themselves
  • Muslim women who are jailed for adultery after they got raped by a relative or because they broke cultural laws leading to the rape
  • Nigerian Christians who get massacred for attending church in a Muslim country

These are examples of innocent victims of random injustice:
  • women who get raped because they went to a bar wearing skimpy, sexually provocative clothing, picked up a stranger and got in his car
  • high-school dropouts who cannot get a job and don't have the resources to improve themselves
  • Muslim women who are jailed for adultery after they got raped by a relative or because they broke cultural laws leading to the rape
  • Nigerian Christians who get massacred for attending church in a Muslim country

  • ... an online study of 1,061 Londoners between the ages of 18 and 50 called “Wake Up to Rape” found that more than half of women surveyed believed rape victims should take some responsibility for what happened. Of these women, almost three quarters believed that if a victim got into bed with the assailant before the attack they should accept some responsibility and one-third blamed victims who dressed provocatively or had gone back to the attacker’s house for a drink, according to BBC News.  [source]    ...    COMPLICIT OR VICTIM?

    Chief Walter Armstrong held a press conference in the Municipal Courtroom to announce the arrest of two suspects in the house burglary and rape of a disabled person on Drummond Street.
      [source   ...     COMPLICIT  OR VICTIM? 
  • Despite decades of decline in teen pregnancies, the United States still has the highest teen birthrate in the industrialized world. Pregnancy is also the number one reason girls drop out of school. Research shows that 3 out of 10 girls will be pregnant at least once before they turn 20. And almost half of female dropouts said becoming a parent was a factor in dropping out, according to a survey by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. [source]    ...     COMPLICIT  OR VICTIM?  

    Many young, poor black men are stuck in poor neighbourhoods with limited licit economic opportunities and failing schools. The incentive to finish high school is quite low, and the incentive to turn to illicit activity is high. Obviously, individuals should be held responsible for their own actions. At the same time, government, at all levels, seems to go out of its way to make it easy for many disadvantaged young men to follow the route out of school and into prison, and very difficult to make it back on the road to licit employment. [source]    ...     COMPLICIT  OR VICTIM?  
  • A WOMAN in Saudi Arabia sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes despite being gang raped has confessed to adultery, the Justice Ministry said yesterday as it tried to fend off mounting criticism.
    Despite being assaulted by seven men who kidnapped her and a male companion at knifepoint, the 19-year-old woman was sentenced in November last year to 90 lashes.  The judge sentenced her for being in a car with a man who was not her relative, a taboo in the Muslim kingdom. [source]    ...     COMPLICIT  OR VICTIM? 

  • Women returned to clean the blood from St. Theresa Catholic Church on Monday and one man wept uncontrollably amid its debris as a Nigerian Christian association demanded protection for its churches.  At least 35 people died at St. Theresa and dozens more were wounded as radical Muslim militants launched coordinated attacks across Africa's most populous nation within hours of one another. Four more people were killed in other violence blamed on the group known as Boko Haram. [source]    ...     COMPLICIT  OR VICTIM?  

    KANO, Nigeria, May 5 (AFP) - More than 200 Muslims are dead and 120 missing after Christian militia attacked a central Nigerian town, one of Nigeria's most senior Islamic leaders said Wednesday, branding the assault "mass murder". [source]
That's the trouble with life: answers are not always yes or no, 1 or 0.  Life is messy.  

Are there innocent victims?  Yes.
Are there participatory victims?  Yes.
Are there people in unfortunate circumstances who are not victims?  Yes.
You need to ask the right questions to get the right answers.  Generalities are poor substitutes.

"A big problem with seeking right answers is that the ideologies intervene.  The answers appear to be right because they satisfy our prejudices, inclinations, even our heart, and only secondarily our mind.  Seeking right questions, on the other hand, can provide a clarity of direction and consequences.  So how do you teach people to ask the right questions?"
  -  Shannon Skousgaard, Ph.D.; Professor Emerita, Associate Professor of Philosopy, George Mason University

2012 IS HERE


Can"t Find It?

Use the SEARCH BLOG feature at the upper left. For example, try "Global Warming".

You can also use the "LABELS" below or at the end of each post to find related posts.

Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

My photo
Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)