Weekend News & Commentary — August 20-21, 2016
In the United States, many working families can’t afford the child care they need. The issue has attracted attention on the campaign trail, and this week The New York Times‘ editorial board weighs in, writing that affordable child care could be an effective antidote to stagnating wages and declining productivity.
Meanwhile, the debate over the “ban the box” movement continues. Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of economics at Harvard, questions whether the movement — designed to combat racial discrimination — might actually increase it, by causing employers to discriminate against all black job applicants instead of just those with criminal records. This argument about “perverse consequences” is one that Professor Zatz has challenged on this blog, here, here, and here. Professor Mullainathan suggests that banning the box will not be enough unless policymakers also confront the deeper “root causes” of workplace discrimination.
As the dust settles on the Fox News sexual-harassment scandal, The New Yorker looks back on the lessons it reveals about harassment in the workplace: first, that even successful women — in the case of Fox News, some of its most well-known female anchors — can be made victims, and second, that it can act as a serious disruption to a woman’s career, impacting advancement opportunities and even earnings.
Are robots the future of work? Maybe, if the unions will allow it. Slate reports that engineers have developed giant cleaning machines with the artificial intelligence to navigate on their own. The success of this new technology will depend, however, on whether it can gain the support of unions like the SEIU.