Inequality, Budgets, and the “Gay Caveman”


In April 2011, my state senator James L. Seward blasted out an automated telephone survey. Masquerading as a poll, the recorded voice played up everything having to do with tax caps and tax cuts, without mentioning the deteriorating quality of life–schools, roads, healthcare–those tax caps and tax cuts make inevitable. As it turns out, the so-called poll was only to drum up support for legislation the senator already endorses.

The last question was telling. In the list of options for what the state legislature should concentrate on, I had to decide between “jobs” and “same-sex marriage.”

Issues of inequality and budgets are related to questions of sex and gender in pre-history, because they have become bundled as a single political package. Anthropological analysis is relevant and necessary. We need to get the facts correct about ancient burials, and we also need to address contemporary inequalities.

Inequality and Budgets

Two relevant articles related to inequality and budgets:

  1. Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% by Joseph Stiglitz in Vanity Fair;
  2. an article by David Leonhardt in the NY Times estimates that simply letting the Bush tax cuts expire will solve 75% of the deficit problem.
  3. Thanks to Neuroanthropology’s Wednesday Round Up #150 for the Stiglitz link, and the Round Up includes some other interesting articles regarding the “Culture of Poverty.” It seems, according to Mario Small, the depiction of a come-back for culture-of-poverty badly misrepresented the sociological work.

Also, David Brooks and Gail Collins discussed budgets at the New York Times. My comment, at #6 in the stream:

The idea, from David Brooks, that “there are two visions here” seems far too generous to both political parties. There are actually two postures here, one of which is partially based in reality, and the other completely divorced from facts.

Brooks says he agrees with the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy. Let’s start there. If (a big if), we can get that done, let’s see if that helps to budge the numbers and mitigate some of the deleterious effects of social inequality.

In terms of the “unfunded liabilities in Medicare,” a huge problem is how Americans do not live in one healthcare system–we live in several highly unequal systems. Until we are actually all in the same boat, we will not be able to come up with one system that works. Building a single national healthcare boat, something like Medicare-for-all, is the only way to bring these posturing sides together. It can be done without “a fiscal crisis that will make the recent recession look like a picnic,” but it will take much more political will and vision.

The “Gay Caveman”

The “Gay Caveman” story just seems to keep running. Please support real anthropological analysis by linking to the perceptive comments and insights posted by anthropology bloggers Rosemary Joyce, “‘Gay Caveman’: Wrecking a perfectly good story” and John Hawks, “The ‘gay caveman.’” Interestingly, and connected to the idea that these issues really are interconnected, Joyce has apparently received a slew of comments on her blog-post claiming that this “Gay Caveman” story is politically motivated by a liberal agenda. See the reply Joyce makes on April 11:

This is the mildest in a series of to me bizarre comments I have received on this blog post, all of them accusing someone (often, me, as if I originated the story) of having a “liberal agenda”; or a “gay agenda”; or being a “terrorist” (seriously, truly, I wouldn’t joke about this); often with flourishes about evil Berkeley faculty and what Al Qaeda will do to me when they take over.


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