Money as a social construction

 

via Sociological Images – Money as a social construction.

We all know that, on some basic level, money is purely symbolic.  It only works because everyone collectively agrees to participate in the fantasy that a dollar bill is worth a dollar, whatever that is.  Moreover, most of our money these days is purely electronic, represented by ones and zeros and real only in the most abstract sense possible.

Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post offered another way of thinking about money as a social construction: how much it costs to make it.  None of our coins are actually worth what they cost, and pennies and nickels are worth quite a bit less.

The excess cost of producing pennies and nickels means a budget deficit for the Treasury. In 2013, producing the coins cost the government $105 million dollars above and beyond the coins’ value.

Interestingly, moves to eliminate pennies have been successfully opposed by the zinc industry for years, illustrating another sociological phenomenon: the power of corporations to shape government decisions.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

For more relevant discussion about the worth of our money, watch the documentary The End of the Road. (available streaming online or at the local library, if your library rocks like mine does).

 

Tipping perpetuates racism, classism, and poverty — let’s get rid of it! – Vox

The way we tip reflects our prejudices, argues Freakonomics’ Stephen Dubner. Here’s what he told Brian Lehrer: “The data show very clearly that African Americans receive less in tips than whites, and so there is a legal argument to be made that as a protected class, African American servers are getting less for doing the same work. And therefore, the institution of tipping is inherently unfair.”

But not only are black servers making less money than white servers — black diners are perceived to be leaving less money than white diners. Data collected in 2009 from over 1,000 servers all across the US “found that over sixty-five percent [of servers] rated African Americans as below average tippers.” As a result, restaurant workers of all colors dislike waiting on black customers, studies found. The economy of tipping is so racially charged that both servers and diners are affected by prejudice.

Racism isn’t the only kind of discrimination baked into the American tipping system. Female servers, too, face routine discrimination. As Lynn told Dubner: blonde, slender, larger-breasted women in their 30s earn some of the highest tips. Granted, the decision of how large a tip to leave is up to the subjective whims of the tipper, and different people have their own aesthetic preferences. But when a server’s main source of income is her tips, and if those tips are regulated by the prejudices of the tippers, then a case could potentially be made that certain wage practices of restaurants are discriminatory.

This is the very case Kamer made (emphasis mine): “In 1971’s Griggs v. Duke Power, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was ruled to prohibit businesses with discriminatory practices against those protected under it, even if that effect is unintended. Tipping, which has been proven to be discriminatory, could be downright unconstitutional.”

via Tipping perpetuates racism, classism, and poverty — let’s get rid of it! – Vox.

John Oliver on Income Inequality & The Wealth Gap

John Oliver nails it here. He starts off with clips of Obama saying that income inequality will be a top priority and showing how quickly that topic was pushed under the rug thanks to all the rich bastards who cried out that this was the start of class warfare. So, nope… we don’t get to have a political discussion about income inequality (because hello, wealthy oligarchy). We just have to suck it up and keep falling for the boot strap myth.

Oliver also covers how ,even despite the odds and logic, Americans are led to believe that they can all be “winners” simply because they’re American and everyone has a chance at The American Dream,right?

 

I made potato salad for a lot less than $60,000

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I have table-flipping-She-Hulk rage over that dude who raised at least $60,000 to make a damn potato salad. There was a 3 day period where I may have needed a trigger warning for talk of potato salad.

Which was sad because I really wanted to eat some potato salad. Since,you know, that’s about all I can eat these days and it sounded like a nice change from soup.

Over the weekend, we had salt potatoes for dinner. The next day, I used the leftovers to make what could only be described as Rage Against the Potato Salad Kickstarter Potato Salad. It was good with only a slight aftertaste of bitterness & rage.

It doesn’t take a genius or $60,000 to make tater salad. You take potatoes

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…cut ‘em into chunks. Maybe peel them first. Maybe not. Whatever.

Add some mayo, Dijon mustard,a splash of apple cider vinegar…some herbs (I like dill & lovage). Maybe even chop up some onions, if that’s what you’re into. I like hard boiled eggs in it,too.

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That’s it. How much of each? Who knows. I just throw it together until it looks like potato salad. Like I said, doesn’t take a genius. Or someone who has money. I made a huge bowl for probably about $3.00 or so.

I need a kickstarter for a new house with better lighting in the kitchen so my food photography doesn’t look like crap. This potato salad tasted better than it looked.
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So, now that I showed you how to make a decent potato salad for free, do me ONE favor:

If you have money to throw at a cause, please give it to people who need it and not someone who started a fundraiser as a joke.  If you don’t trust people on the Internet, go buy some potatoes and other good food to donate to your local food pantry. Thanks.

 

 

 

 

The money spent on the F-35 would be enough to buy every homeless person in the country a mansion.

via Truth.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is looking like a very costly mistake for the U.S. military.

How costly? According to an analysis by ThinkProgress, the money spent on the F-35 would be enough to buy every homeless person in the country a mansion.

Read more

Now, every homeless person doesn’t really need a mansion but I understand why they used that to demonstrate the obscene spending here. I’d rather we find modest housing for everyone who needs it and then have some jingle leftover to feed the people who struggle with food insecurity. And we’d probably have some leftover for the other things that benefit society & low income families, like childcare  subsidies.

The Gregory Project, An Initiative to Turn Billboards Into Affordable Housing

 

The Gregory Project, An Initiative to Turn Billboards Into Affordable Housing

From the Gregory Project website:
Cities are engulfed with rigid constructions for billboard advertisement which are expensive to put up, maintain and their subsequent renting is a costly venture. The Gregory project brings optimization to the construction of billboard structures in a way that the insides of these, after the extension, could be turned into a living space. Such an object would need just  a minimal maintenance cost which could be partially paid through the rental of its advert space. 

I like that this is solution oriented.

Thoughts on “This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps”

The article  “This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps” was sent to me about a dozen times by mid-morning. I tweeted my thoughts about it and you can see them below in the Storify I made (which may look wonky since embed doesn’t work correctly in wordpress, so I had to convert to html and …yeah).

I don’t have much to add to the series of tweets. A lot of people really loved this piece and I respect that. I suspect it’s because people are liking a narrative that addresses going from stability to poverty in a short time since it’s becoming a common story.
As always, I just like to look at things through a more critical lens and offer perspective that may be outside of popular opinion.

Thoughts on WaPo “Drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps”//

 

 

Thoughts on WaPo “Drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps”

  1. OK, I read the Mercedes-Food Stamps thing.
    1st off: I agree that when you become poor, it’s illogical to sell things. #talkpoverty
  2. Selling things of value when you find yourself in poverty only reduces your access to opportunities & advantages. #talkpoverty
  3. I was bothered by the author’s wording sometimes. She seemed to see herself as above the “poverty stricken mothers” in their “grungy den”
  4. Referring to herself as the tall blonde girl on heels and it’s really a powerful statement against the way she describes the other WIC moms
  5. I had to stop going to WIC b/c I had to take 2 buses to get to the appointments & couldn’t afford bus fare.Reality for some
    #talkpoverty
  6. Even if we had a car, I could never guarantee at times we’d have gas money or be able to pay insurance.Grateful for having public transport
  7. In the WaPo piece, author mentions the Mercedes was a 2nd car. The Honda wouldn’t start. So, that makes me feel a certain way…
    BUT
  8. I mean…you have a paid off ,reliable Mercedes… that’s the car you should be driving. That’s reasonable.
  9. Someone also just asked me…”what did she mean ‘picking up food stamps'”?
    Good question because WIC isn’t food stamps
  10. It’s important for people sharing their stories of poverty,however brief, refer to gov’t programs & processes correctly in their writing.
  11. when you call WIC “food stamps” , it’s misleading as to how programs work. You can be eligible for WIC but not food stamps.
  12. @dumbsainted that confused me, too. You don’t pick up food stamps at a church.
  13. At no point in the WaPo piece does the author tell a story about using food stamps. She’s using WIC.
    #talkpoverty
  14. I appreciate that she mentions that the application process for safety net programs is not easy because really…it isn’t a piece of cake.
  15. @dumbsainted did she learn the lesson that poverty has nothing to do with character flaws? that other poor ppl “failed” bc systemic problem?
  16. .@MommysaurusRAWR There’s no lessons except to reveal that she felt embarrassed & internalized msgs about how poor people should live
  17. @dumbsainted For me her piece smacked of respectability, that she only became poor through larger forces, as if others did not.
  18. @dumbsainted I liked the article because it showed another side. Her language/descriptions weren’t always the best. The emotion was there.
  19. Whenever someone writes about their poverty experience, their individual narrative isn’t going to be something everyone can identify with.
  20. Poverty can look different. It can last for years and years or be a brief experience. Some people have more advantages to escape,too.
  21. Someone who is white,cishet, educated, ablebodied…. it’s less likely that they stay in poverty for long periods of time.
  22. No, I was not saying that white people don’t live in poverty for long periods. I think I’m proof of that.
    (Hi, I’m White )

 

Garden Update: The corn was definitely ‘knee-high by the 4th of July’

Well, the garden has had time to do some growing, so just a little update to tell how things are going.

First…
remember my Bean Trellis I made with crutches and 6-pack rings?

Here’s what it looks like right now:
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It was working beautifully. Then as the weather got warmer, it seems like the plastic started to deteriorate and would just snap. I was constantly mending it. But the beans were growing nicely regardless.

And then this guy got hungry. He cleared the entire thing all by himself.
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This is the 2nd woodchuck I caught in the hav-a-hart this summer. The 1st one was sticking to broccoli & cukes. This one ate the beans there (I have more elsewhere,though) , all but 3 swiss chard plants, ALL the brussel sprouts, and some more broccoli.

Hopefully, he’s the last one in the area and the rest of the summer we’ll have peacetime in the garden.

So, here’s what I have growing that I planted on purpose:
~cucumbers ~ yellow wax beans ~ green beans ~snap peas ~swiss chard ~beets ~cauliflower ~kale ~zucchini ~pumpkins ~spaghetti squash ~watermelon ~corn ~peppers~ tomatoes (both cherry & regular)~ okra ~carrots ~parsnips~lettuce ~spinach ~dill ~cilantro~basil ~sage~chamomile~lovage~bergamot~sunflowers(3 different types)~onions ~potatoes

I did not plant lemon balm but I still have it in multitudes. I could start a farm. I also have volunteer plants everywhere. I started the season with 4 regular tomato and 2 cherry tomato plants. I had plants seed themselves all over the place and now I have 25 tomato plants. Who knows what variety and I’m okay with that.

I also have herbs that reseeeded themselves in every crack and crevice.
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I have a lot of things that just grow here normally that other people would pull as weeds. Lots of mallow, wood sorrel, plantain,shepherd’s purse, and red clover. I use them to make tinctures & infused oils or dry them for teas & other medicinal uses.

Grey Gardens (the driveway/container garden part of the garden) hasn’t seen any pest activity beyond a few slugs and a chipmunk who thought he should uproot some sunflowers for the fun of it.
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The big tubs are quite packed and I might transfer some things out of there soon.

This is the ratty privacy fence that separates the backyard from the back of the bar next door. We mounted rain gutters & planted greens…

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Speaking of the bar next door…

We were having problems keeping patrons from peeing (and doing other things) in the garden. This is what I ended up doing:
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So far, it’s helped.

 

The bar decided to build an addition on to the back,so they let us raid the scrap lumber pile. We rescued an old gate and some scraps to build this bike rack.

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So, that’s how it’s going.
Haven’t harvested anything other than herbs yet and also haven’t spent any more money since the last update, so we’re still at $21 for our cost.