Archive for February, 2013

The Politics of the Prison Industrial Complex

iberal Voting by Race, Gender, and Employment in the Military/Prison Industrial Complex

Liberal Voting by Race, Gender, and Employment in the Military/Prison Industrial Complex

As I continue to plot my next move, I’ve been thinking about the intersections between occupation, socialization, and interests. Of key import in all of that is how the Military Industrial Complex has supported itself by creating subindustries based in policing, prisons, firefighting, security, and other he-manly activities that give strong preferences to the employment of people who served in the military—and which embrace the fascist values of those institutions. Or do they? Notice, an alternative would be that people go to the military, learn some skills, and come back to ordinary life as regular citizens whose interests are no different from any other American.

Above I chart rates of voting for the “liberal” political candidate in the General Social Survey since 1988 by race, gender, and whether or not a respondent had a job in policing, prisons, firefighting, or the military. You know, those REAL AMERICAN HEROES, who deserve to have raises and good jobs, unlike those fucking commie teachers who should be at home barefoot and pregnant. We don’t need no education from a bunch of commie lesbos! But, I digresss. These occupations hold the employment of 1.6% of white men and 1.9% of black men, and .4% of white women and 1.1% of black women—-and I’m pretty sure I’ll up that total once I do another scan of the census codes. I sure hope Mike Hout gets that grant to integrate the census occupational codes in the GSS before all NSF funding is eliminated for the social sciences….

As you can see, employment in the Military-Prison Industrial sector has a significant negative impact on liberal voting for white men, white women, and black men. Black women appear to be smarter. Indeed, the voting difference for white men is over 10%—despite the fact that the vast majority of people workings these jobs are in the public sector—and voting Republican or for Ross Perot would hardly be in their material interest. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes with the impending legalization of marijuana and  decriminalization of many drugs. As we finally begin to reduce our mass incarceration society to something resembling that of a civilized society—what will those who benefitted from the mass lockup of the brown people and hippies do? Join the Teabaggers? Grow weed?

“Racial” Differences in Mortality Risk and Gun Ownership

Mortality by Race and Gun in the Household--National Death Index-GSS

Mortality by Race and Gun in the Household–National Death Index-GSS

I’ve been plotting my next move, and examining mortality risk for gun owners using the General Social Survey linked to the National Death Index. Simple analyses are often not very revealing, since so much goes into mortality when you have both left and right censoring based on age (because the GSS is cross sectional, not all people have the same duration of risk, and they don’t enter the sample at the same age). But, one thing that I notice quite clearly is that there are pronounced differences in the association between gun ownership and mortality across the simple “race” classifications in the GSS. Having a gun in the household has no effect on whether or not white people turned up dead in the National Death Index—28% for both gun owners and non-gun owners. In contrast, there is a whopping 10% difference for African Americans. For  African Americans, 41% of gun owners turned up dead in the NDI, while only 31% of African Americans who didn’t have a gun in the home wound up in the NDI. A similar gap is found for “other” non-whites—24% of gun owners turn up dead, while only 16% who don’t have a gun are found in the NDI.

A lot goes into explaining these gaps. For whites, there are high rates of gun ownership, and  many of the gun owners live in rural areas and live bucolic existences free from the stresses and strains of the real world. For non-whites, gun ownership may be more of a signal of the presence of danger and conflict in their contextual settings or even their personal lives….But, I have to finish this other book before I get into more of this, and disentangle many of the other fascinating things revealed using more sophisticated analyses.


American Idiots: Reflections on the Greatest Sporting Event in the World

Czech phenom Katrina Nash leads Katie Compton---I'm in the blue coat with the KFC bucket on my head.

Czech phenom Katrina Nash leads Katie Compton—I’m in the blue coat with the KFC bucket on my head.

I’m not a spectator. I haven’t watched an entire basketball or football game in more than ten years. When I was in grad school, Duke went to the Final Four every year, and won the championship my final year. I was in my office working on my dissertation when they won. I never played football, and I quit basketball after 7th grade (though I was the starting center on the A-team….). I guess I don’t like to watch. But, this weekend was different. The World Championships of Cyclocross was held for the first time outside of Europe, and it was contested on a course in Louisville Kentucky that I have raced on several times in the last four years. It  was an incredible event, and for the most part the American organizers did a fabulous job of constructing a truly worthy course and providing support for the racers from throughout the world (or, rather, mostly from Europe and a handful of racers from elsewhere….). Flooding on the Ohio River forced the organizers to move all of the races to Saturday, and the Women’s race would be contested at 11am, Eastern. There was no way in hell we were going to miss this, since the great American hope Katie Fucking Compton was going head to head against the Dutch Goddess Marianne Vos–the greatest cyclist in the world, Olympic Champion on the road and track, and multiple time World Champion in Cyclocross. I picked up six KFC chicken buckets to wear on our heads in support of Compton, and we were armed with our cowbells and vuvuzelas. The change in date meant that we had to wake up at 4am and be on the road by 5 to make sure we would see this epic battle.

But, despite our partisanship in hoping that Katie Compton would prevail, we are all actually racers. We know that Marianne Vos is an awesome cyclist, and would be likely to win. We appreciate anyone who can master a frozen muddy course like what was dealt in Louisville this weekend–a course that was deemed worthy of a world championship by even the most ardent European fan or racer. Indeed, we all were really excited to watch racers like Katerina Nash from the Czech Republic, and Sanne van Passen from the Netherlands, and Sanne Cant from Belgium. On the men’s side, none of us much cared for any of the Americans. We were there to see the best racers—-Sven Nys, Bart Wellens, Kevin Pawels, Radomir Simonek, and Klaas Vantournout.

Despite the overall success of the event, ugly Americans had to rear their heads. I heard of this in the beer tent from a few of the Europeans. Apparently, some of the American spectators were actually booing Marianne Vos. I couldn’t believe it. She’s 25 years old and the most successful woman since France’s Jeannie Longo. She’s effusive, approachable, and just a joy to watch. She rode a wonderful race and deserved to win. We were hunkered on an icy hill blowing vuvuzelas and wringing cowbells wearing our KFC buckets on our heads and cheering Marianne Vos. But, the teabagger “spectators” didn’t care about sport. They only cared about whether or not “their” team won. Katie Compton did win. She won silver, fighting back from a mechanical to overhaul every other woman in the race—but even without the mechanical she was woman enough to admit after that there is no way she could have beaten Vos. I’m proud of my KFC even more for saying that.

Walking back to the car I got the full dose of ugly American. We were a bit separated and it was crowded and I found myself next to a couple who I thought I knew (he looked like a guy I had raced against, but everyone was wearing heavy coats…). He immediately began a tirade against the “foreigners” who gave him the finger and said “fuck you, Americans.”  He said, “I wanted to tell him that we can just send him back to where he came from.” And he was apoplectic that someone would have the audacity to actually root for a non-American in America. I have no doubt that this guy had been among the crowd vigorously booing and harassing competitors from other nations, and then he’s surprised when some Dutch guy sticks it in his face when the Dutch took three of the four titles?!!  I told him “I really liked all of the Europeans, and I’m glad they traveled all this way to cheer their people.” And I reminded him that this was a huge benefit for his parochial city–that a couple of thousand Europeans came to Louisville and spent several nights in hotels, eating in restaurants, renting cars, and the like. He sulked off with his overweight teabagger wife.

We had tons of fun with the Dutch and Belgian fans, and their main complaint was that the beer tent wasn’t big enough. Any real “fan” of the sport would have been rooting for people like Vos, Nash, Nys, and Vantournout just as much as for Americans like Compton or Page. But, for the teabaggers, they thought of this as charity for the foreigners. And, the teabagging heckler made it a point to claim that the Papa John’s fascist was bankrolling the entire event (which was not at all true).  I pointed out that the event could easily pay for itself. We paid $40 admission an there were at least 10,000 people. Had they provided more beer tents, food, and merchandise booths, the event wouldn’t have needed the dirty conservative asshole’s money (and it probably didn’t, in the end). It was interesting that this guy and his spouse didn’t ever see the point that the Europeans were actually “superior” in every way, not simply in the sport. For him, anyone who was not a white conservative Christian from the South was a dirty foreigner probably looking for a handout. In fact, the people  he was ridiculing had probably dropped a minimum of $5k each to go to a sporting event, because they have good jobs and a strong economy over there in Europe…..

Hanging with the Dutch and Belgian fans in the Bier Tent!

Hanging with the Dutch and Belgian fans in the Bier Tent!