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Unformatted text preview: 136 P A R T III SO CIAL PRO BLEM S : W O R K A N D U N E M P L O Y M E N T DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. The basic argument of the authors is that globalization allows corporations to create a worldwide competition that benefits the cor- poration but no one else . What do you think? 2. To what extent do you think that globaliza- tion will make the study of society (which sociology has normally been defined as) obso- lete? Is society no longer the most important unit of organization? 3. Will globalization create an alliance among the workers of the world, making worldwide strikes become the norm? Is it possible that instead of a "race to the bottom," we will experience a rise in the standard of living for all workers, and ultimately corporations will be limited even more than they are today? Do you think that Marx was right when he wrote that those who are most powerful will ultimately bring them- selves down as they pursue more and more profits and unintentionally unite the workers? 4. "The gap between rich and poor is increasing worldwide." So what? 12 The Vanishing Middle Class GRIFF WITTE The Four Questions 1. Is there a problem here? What exactly is it? 2. Is it a social problem? 3. What are some of the factors causing this problem? 4. Does Witte give some way to alleviate the problem? Topics Covered Middle class Work Job loss Unemployment Economic inequality S cott Clark knows how to plate a circuit board for a submarine. He knows which chemicals, when mixed, will keep a cell phone ringing and which will explode. He knows how to make his little piece of a factory churn hour after hour, day after day. But right now, as his van hurtles toward the misty silhouette of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the woods rising darkly on either side and Rich- mond, Va ., receding behind him, all he needs to know is how to stay awake and avoid the deer. So he guides his van along the center of the highway, one set of wheels in the right lane and the other in the left . "Gives me a chance if a deer runs in from either direction," he explains . "And at night, this is my road." SO U RCE : From Griff Witte, "As Income Gap Widens, Uncertainty Spreads," The Washington Post, September 20, 2004 . © 2004 The Washington Post . This excerpt and figures herein are reprinted with permission . ARTICLE 12 THE VANISHING MIDDLE CLASS 137 It's his road because, at 3 :43 a.m . on a Wednes- day, no one else wants it . Clark is nearly two hours into a w orkday that w on't end for another 13, delivering interoffice m ail around the state for four com panies-none of which offers him health care, vacation, a pension or even a prom ise that today's job w ill be there tom orrow . H is m eticu- lously laid plans to retire by his m id-fifties are dead . At 51, he's left with only a vague hope of get- ting off the road sometime in the next 20 years....
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