- Associated Press - Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Connecticut Post of Bridgeport, Oct. 15, 2014

The issue of the safe coexistence of guns and people is a complex and emotional one.

Even the semantics are charged. The notion of “gun control,” for instance, grates on the ears of the Second Amendment absolutists.

And protestations from gun rights advocates that mental illness - not magazine capacity or the firing rate of a weapon - is as much a cause in the heinous outbursts of mass shooting that have staggered us all over the last few years, are not without merit.

Certain precautions, one would think, are common sense and steps on which we all could agree.

Universal background checks, for instance, would seem to be one of them - but there is no agreement. Certainly not from the National Rifle Association, the loudest voice on the topic in Washington.

A new campaign is underway that, once again, we’d think is grounded in common sense. It is an initiative of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to heighten awareness about the potential danger posed by guns in the home. A legally owned gun, if not stored properly and available to someone else in the home, particularly a child, can be a tragedy waiting to happen.

David Wheeler, of Newtown, has partnered with the Brady Center and will appear in advertisements that are coupled with a report, “The Truth about Kids & Guns,” that links school shootings to parents’ guns.

Wheeler’s 6-year-old son, Ben, was one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook School in December 2012.

Adam Lanza, the killer at Sandy Hook, brought guns - legally purchased by his mother - from home to the school.

“This is due in large part to a dangerous casual attitude to guns in homes,” Wheeler said.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center, said “As parents we need to be fully aware of the risks of kids and guns in the home and what we can do to keep our families safe.”

This is not radical stuff. “We aren’t saying you can’t own guns, you just need to be aware of the risk and make safer choices on gun safety and storage.” Every year, according to Gross, more than 2,700 children die from gun shots, and 68 percent of those deaths involved a gun that was in the home, or was brought from a home.

It stands to reason that if gun owners tighten up the precautions that would keep a weapon from the hands of one of their children, that number could be brought down.

It’s a campaign that any right-thinking person can get behind.

The Day of New London (Conn.), Oct. 16, 2014

Don’t ask. Just trust that the system will reward you for your compliance.

That is the message Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella delivered when prodded for advice to give women who are reluctant to request raises.

“It’s not really about asking for the raise but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along,” said Nadella.

“Because that’s good karma,” he continued, shoving his foot deeper down his esophagus. “It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know, ‘That’s the kind of person that I want to trust. That’s the kind of person that I want to really give more responsibility to.’ “

Again, this was advice to women, who earn less than men in almost every occupation on Earth. Also, such advice was delivered at a conference for women in tech, an industry in which, for many years, the biggest employers illegally conspired to depress employee pay. Sure sounds like a system workers can trust.

Three basic takeaways about Nadella’s comments, which he has since retracted, including in a company-wide email encouraging employees who think they deserve raises to speak up: 1 - This is terrible advice for employees who want more money, if understandable when coming from a boss. 2 - It’s also what many women already do, which is 3 - part of the reason why the gender pay gap persists.

This should go without saying, but bosses are not in the business of paying anything more than they need to for talent. Payroll is not a charitable activity.

Employers may elect to pay good salaries for higher-quality workers, or to improve productivity by making workers believe they’re being paid fairly or even generously. But generally speaking, employers’ interests and employees’ interests are not aligned when it comes to setting compensation, just as the buyers and sellers of any product (labor included) have opposite incentives when it comes to setting prices. Which is why workers need to negotiate actively for higher pay rather than wait for it to be benevolently bestowed upon them. (It’s also why I don’t think it’s particularly crazy for a chief executive to respond the way Nadella did, despite the outrage his remarks inspired.)

Many people have trouble mustering courage to negotiate with bosses or adversaries. But women seem especially averse to haggling.

Research by Carnegie Mellon’s Linda Babcock and others has found that men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women, and they report less apprehension when doing so. Even outside of work, women are loath to negotiate, preferring to pay as much as $1,353 to avoid haggling over the price of a car (which perhaps helps explain why the majority of Saturn buyers were female).

Among my own group of (ambitious, talented) girlfriends, I often hear a reluctance to negotiate for better terms of employment. Hard work will be rewarded, we all believe, and if we merely keep our heads down and achieve, employers will award us unprompted. Even Maria Klawe - the president of Harvey Mudd College and the person who elicited Nadella’s controversial comments - said she regretted that she didn’t negotiate her compensation in either her current job or her previous one and advised others not to follow her example.

Differential willingness to negotiate and ask for raises has real, measurable financial consequences, including the reality that women will get less money than men for the same work. Even if all requests for raises are not successful - and right now, wages don’t seem to be rising for anyone - enough of them will be so that, if one group asks and another one doesn’t, you’ll see a gap in pay between the two.

Why are women so reluctant to negotiate? One common theory is that we fear being seen as selfish or, worse, unlikable. This may not be as shortsighted as it sounds. Babcock’s research has also found that women who ask for raises do get more money but are perceived as less likable than men who do the exact same thing - and women may fear that being disliked will hold back their careers over the long run. This seems to be the “karma” Nadella referred to: Your boss will like you more if you don’t demand more money. Especially if you’re female.

Which is why closing the gender pay gap requires not only encouraging more women to step up and ask for more - but also, among other things, training bosses to not hold it against women for asking.


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