Partners - Stock market, economic and political commentary by Patricia Chadwick

Archive for the ‘Social Conscience’ Category

How the Mighty are Falling (But Let’s Beware of a Witch Hunt)

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

The acts of sexual aggression by (for the most part) prominent and powerful men that have come to light over the past few months have generated widespread shock and anger on the part of the public.

The shock is not so much that abuse has gone unreported for many decades; frankly, that is no surprise, as women the world over can attest. Rather, the shock is coming to grips with the troubling realization that among the list of perpetrators are some of the most admired and respected men in this country. There’s a tendency to associate thuggish behavior with ill breeding and a lack of education. What has come to light is an indication of what it means when power corrupts.

The anger is a gut reaction to the awareness that this predatory behavior has been so widespread. #MeToo has erupted in response, allowing millions of women (and some men also) to share their status as victims, without having to divulge the acts of barbarism or describe the shame and pain they have kept bottled up, in some cases for years. I count myself among those many who, as a young adult, was victimized by a powerful older man in the business world, and I hid the fact even from my own family for more than forty years.

This newly galvanized energy will, in itself, do much to end the reign of sexual terror by the unscrupulous, primarily by rebalancing the power relationship between the bully and the victim. Silence is no longer forced upon the abused, and force is no longer the right of the mighty.

Even as this important social tide has turned, let us be mindful that not all accusers are victims, and not all the accused are guilty. There is a long history in this country of mob frenzy treating the accused as guilty with little or no evidence, purely because the story fits the hysteria of the moment.

From the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century, to the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s, to the case of the Amiraults, who ran a day care center in Massachusetts and were swept up in the sex abuse hysteria that rocked the late 1980s (only to be freed from jail after eight years of wrongful confinement when the case fell apart), to the 1987 case of Tawana Brawley, who fabricated a tale of rape by four police officers, whose lives were upended until the case disintegrated on account of its lack of evidence. The widely reported accusations against Cardinal Joseph Bernardin were ultimately dropped by the accuser, who admitted he should never have made them. Similarly, the false allegations of rape against three members of Duke University’s lacrosse team in 2006 brought about the suspension of innocent students and the firing of the coach. And as recently as 2014, Rolling Stone magazine published an entirely spurious article about an unverified rape scene at a fraternity house on the campus of the University of Virginia. Such a litany is worth keeping in mind when each day seems to bring a new array of salacious headlines.

While allegations by numerous individuals against one person can confer logical credence on the plaintiffs, lone wolf accusations cannot be allowed the same degree of respect. Too many bounty seekers, too many disgruntled employees or individuals with venal agendas abetted by eager lawyers can inflict their own form of bullying and abuse. Inaccurate and false headlines can wreak irreparable havoc with the reputations of the innocent, and it is the obligation of each of us – as it is of the press,  to be cautious in casting judgment based on hearsay.

Let’s hope that the era of sexual terror foisted upon so many for so long is on its way out. Let’s make sure, too, that the purge of the perpetrators doesn’t also destroy innocent lives.


© Copyright 2017 Patricia W. Chadwick

Tipping (One Way to Share the Wealth)

Monday, March 21st, 2016

March 21, 2016
Patricia Chadwick, pchadwick@ravengate.com
At two separate recent hotel stays, one in Washington, DC, the other in Atlanta, I noticed a small envelope in my room on which was a printed suggestion that the hotel guest leave a gratuity for the housekeeper.

“Tipping the maid,” as I remember the custom from the 1970s, seemed to die out more than a generation ago, and I was struck by the return of that custom. I readily complied and look for more such envelopes at future hotel stays.

Which gets to the point of this blog. The practice of tipping often seems to be treated as an annoying obligation, instead of an opportunity to say a gracious “Thank you.”

That attitude allows people to tip meagerly if they were not fully satisfied with the service —for example, if the traffic was snarled, and the taxi ride took ten minutes longer than hoped, or if the hamburger at the packed airport restaurant was medium, instead of medium rare. But in neither case was the recipient of the tip (or lack thereof) responsible for the disappointing service.

I like to think of gratuities as a means of augmenting the income of some of the lowest hourly wage earners in our economy — waiters and cab drivers, bellhops and redcaps, manicurists and hotel housekeepers, garage attendants and delivery people — from pizza to furniture.

And let’s not kid ourselves — we all deem the services provided by these professionals to be of critical value in our lives. Imagine coming back to your hotel room, exhausted at the end of a day jammed with meetings, to find damp towels still on the bathroom floor. Think of your frustration at getting to the airport towing luggage and toddlers and not being able to do curbside check in. Try to fathom the horror of having to do your own manicure before an important client meeting or job interview or even a date.

It’s easy to argue that if everyone were paid a decent minimum wage, there wouldn’t be the need to tip. That’s the way it seems to work in other modern societies, you may say. But that argument won’t solve the problem that exists in our economy today.

Fortunately, in many cases, technology makes the art of tipping a breeze. Credit card use in nearly all taxicabs allows one, with the touch of a finger, to add a 30% tip to the fare. If the cost of the ride is $12.50 (for example), a 30% gratuity is just $3.75. The difference between that and the meager $1.25 of a 10% tip is real cash of $2.50 in the pocket of the driver, a nice increment to his or her hourly wage and hardly a burden to the rider. And the appreciative “Thank you” from the driver as you exit the cab will put a smile on your face.

Once upon a time, it sufficed to keep lots of one-dollar bills in your wallet for the ability to tip on the spur of the moment. But today, I like to think that “FIVE is the new ONE.” A dollar tip says to the service provider, “I have to do this even though I don’t want to,” while a five-dollar bill says, “Thank you so much; I appreciate your service.”

A one-dollar tip keeps the service provider at the poverty level, while if we all make the effort to be generous with our gratuities, we can be part of having a real and beneficial impact on a large segment of the hardworking people in this country.

Trickle-down economics may be scoffed at by many, but there is no better case of true trickle-down benefits than by generously saying “Thank you” with a gratuity that matters.

By the way, the word gratuity derives from the Latin word “gratias,” which means simply “Thanks.”

Let there be thanks that someone is doing a job I don’t want to do; let there be thanks that I can share my blessing of well-being with someone who can benefit from it; let there be thanks that I can help to improve the quality of life of someone I don’t know but do appreciate.


© Copyright 2015 Patricia W. Chadwick

Keeping Things in Perspective – Campaign Spending vs. Saving Lives

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

A week in Zimbabwe spent working at several clinics that serve HIV/AIDS patients was enlightening and thought provoking.Admittedly, it was distressing to see how rampant, even now, HIV is in some of the poorest parts of Africa; it’s not an exaggeration to say that in some Zimbabwean villages a large majority of the people are HIV-positive.On the other hand, advances made in the treatment of the disease are truly astounding. A once-a-day pill, taken faithfully, can restore patients to a full and meaningful life. Pregnant women who are HIV-positive are giving birth daily to HIV-negative infants. HIV is no longer a death sentence.Arriving at an outreach clinic 65 miles from Victoria Falls, we (volunteers and medical professionals) were greeted by a throng of nearly three hundred residents, some of whom had walked as far as five miles from their own villages in unforgiving heat. Most were HIV-positive, yet nearly all of them looked healthy and well-nourished, despite the fact that they live from hand to mouth as subsistence farmers in an area that has been plagued with drought.

Patients, ranging in age from three to seventy-five, came to the clinic with their medical records book, and they stood patiently in line to have blood drawn and tested. There was no shoving or pushing; infants and children tagged along with their parents. The fact that most of the children did not need to be tested was a tribute to their mothers for taking their daily dosage of life-saving medication during their pregnancy. It was also evidence of the significant progress among the population in understanding the importance of adhering to the daily therapy prescribed to contain the wracking harm of HIV infection.

At the end of a work schedule that began at seven o’clock in the morning and concluded just before midnight, fatigue and deep satisfaction meant that sleep came fast.

After a few days, it dawned on me that I had been blissfully oblivious to the shenanigans roiling the political silly season back home in the U.S. I didn’t know and I didn’t care about which presidential candidate had inched ahead by a nano-percent in the polls.

I reveled in not feeling hostage to the tedious drone of pundits, from left and right,  whose chief raison d’être seems to be analyzing the latest slip of the tongue by an  addled candidate as a pivotal event worth exhaustive and exhausting chatter.

In the balance of life’s realities, what was consequential came into sharp relief. The HIV initiatives in Zimbabwe are vital to the survival of many members of the human family and being part of that worthy project, though only for a week, brought a sense of balance that even the most compelling punditry cannot provide.

The eye opening truth was the realization that nearly all the funds required to provide medications to the patients at the clinics in Zimbabwe are coming from private donations, while back home more than $1 billion is being raised in the pursuit of a single job, the presidency of the United States. What an irony that the costly pursuit of that office, viewed from the perspective of an HIV clinic, seems suddenly so inconsequential.

Think of the societal good that might be wrought if only a small portion of that money were spent to better the lives of the poorest and most needy around the world.


© Copyright 2015 Patricia W. Chadwick

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