Thursday, May 20, 2010

What has happened?

I am very lucky. I love to travel, and part of my job entails traveling, particularly to state capitols. I enjoy the history and the politics and touring the capitol buildings. They are all very different, and yet quite similar. They are stately and beautiful. Some are well guarded, others allow firearms. And so on.

However, one thing strikes me. They all have pictures and stories about our history and how people worked together to keep this great country intact. It wasn't easy. Think of the Civil War. But Lincoln's goal was to stay the United States. Yes, there has been discord, and particularly with the Civil War. But people were passionate about our country, and it was about how to make it better. People just didn't always have the same ideas about how make it better.

But now? It doesn't seem to be about how to make it better. It seems to be about how to win. For example, unless the senate has 60 members of one party, the other side will filibuster and hold up everything. Look at health care. This was our chance to get it right. We needed regional focus groups for consumer views. We needed committees with physicians, nurses, insurance executives, and lawyers about how to redesign this failing system. We needed to work together. We could have done something really amazing. But no. The Republicans and Democrats alike made it into a game...will the Democrats win? Will the Republicans win? I suspect the Republicans will do everything possible to see that this reform fails because they didn't win. What a bunch of self-centered babies.

When I looked at the photo of senators in the state capitol today, I saw what I often seen. Mostly men. I wonder. Would it be different if women ran our country?


seanahan said...

There was an article in Time recently about what if women ran Wall Street. Well, they couldn't have done a worse job, right? Of all the industries in the world, I would say high finance probably has the lowest percentage of women in places of power.

I wonder how much risk aversity has to do with it. If you have 10 guys and 10 girls, and the guys take risks and the girls don't, at the end of the day you have 2 guys who have succeeded brilliantly, and 8 who've failed and left, whereas you have 10 girls who've done well but not outstanding. This is clearly an oversimplification, and I can't really say for sure that testosterone is linked to risk taking.

Evolutionary reasoning is easy to hypothesize and impossible to test, but in the long run, the best female strategy is to raise the offspring she has, and the best male strategy could be to go out and try to have more offspring. In the long run, we as a culture have decided that the best male strategy is to remain with their family. The Finance industry has decided that the best strategy is to take insane risks.

Kalleh said...

Hmmm, interesting point, Sean.

I was a little too simplistic in my post. I do know that women can be difficult as I am in a woman profession. I was speaking with a male nurse the other day, and he said he tells his men friends that nursing is a beautiful place for men to advance because women back bite, quibble, and hold the men get promoted. He is right on with that comment, from my experience. I remember once, as a faculty member, suggesting that we put another faculty member on our committee. My colleague said, "Oh no! We can't! Twenty years ago she (did something...I can't recall what)." Good heaven's! Nurses are also known to eat their young, and nursing faculties are notoriously known for working far more hours with far fewer resources than any other department. I have seen nursing deans give up tenured positions willy nilly, when the deans of business, law, medicine, or other professional programs, will fight to hold them...and the former are usually men.

So...women are not perfect, that's for sure!

Kalleh said...

Okay, I made a mistake in the last comment, and comments can't be edited (how stupid that they can't be!). I meant latter, not former. In other words, the nursing deans are usually women and the deans of other professional programs are usually men. Not always, but usually.