Until fairly recently, most caregiving was invisible to the public eye. Caring was done informally in the private sphere, mostly by women, for relatives, neighbors, and friends; and it was mostly unpaid. Gradually over the course of the twentieth century, caring has gone public. As middle-class women moved into the labor force, society responded by creating new entitlements to care for children, the sick and disabled, and the elderly. And as needs and entitlements expand, so does the provision of care. Much care is now provided by people who care for a living and by professionals who gain their work identity from caring.
One of the enduring metaphors of American federalism is that states serve as laboratories for the federal government. States are the basement tinkerers that generate ideas to solve big national problems. They are the crucibles for testing the safety and efficacy of new ideas before the whole country adopts them. State leaders, the argument goes, are closer to the people, more sensitive to local conditions, and more attuned to real social problems than are national officials.
In a parody of affirmative action, the Senate failed to assess seriously Clarence Thomas's fitness for the Supreme Court. Casualties include blacks, women, Democrads, and the Court's own moral authority.
The confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas were a great national Rorschach test. The lesson, some say, is that the United States has made great progress in race relations. Or, is it that racism is alive and well? Some concluded that women gained a new place in politics, so that even an issue as threatening to men as sexual harassment can no longer be swept under the rug. Others learned that women are still not taken seriously by a male power establishment and it doesn't pay to speak up. For a few, the Thomas affair demonstrated the strength and adaptability of our political institutions. For many, it revealed rot at the core.
Fetal Risks, Women's Rights: Showdown At Johnson Controls by Deborah A. Stone Johnson Controls, Inc. manufactures batteries in sixteen states. Jobs on its production line are "good jobs," the kind rapidly disappearing from the American economy -- unionized, high-paying, skilled manual labor with good benefits and chances for advancement. They are also the kind of jobs that have never been widely available to women. Just as women began to gain entry into these jobs, employers discovered a medical problem: The lead used in battery production endangers not just adult workers; it can build up in human tissues, and if passed on to a fetus can cause serious mental and physical problems for the child.
When a blood test to detect AIDS antibodies was first announced in 1985, the ensuing controversy over the use of the tests by insurance companies seemed to take a familiar shape. On one side were civil rights advocates claiming discrimination if the insurers were permitted to use the tests to screen applicants for life and health insurance. On the other side was an industry insisting on its right to be free of government regulation. But despite the seemingly familiar pattern, the conflict over AIDS testing really concerned a novel problem with repercussions for many people who do not see themselves as having any stake in the issue.