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I’m so, so tired this week. Winter is wearing on me. Maybe I’m coming down with something. Everything is exhausting and frustrating.
I’ve had technical difficulties getting inventory into my new online shop that I just had no patience to deal with this week, and then felt terrible that I wasn’t working harder on it. The emotional labor required for political activism these days is taxing on it’s own but this week it has felt especially overwhelming.

I need a nap and probably a few hours just to do nothing but watch videos of baby goats in pajamas or a couple episode of Drunk History.

The one bit of good news today was that Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration. This was one cabinet pick I had intended to fight hard against and had a post ready for tomorrow making that case with actions to take. This saves me the trouble. He was one nominee who had a good chance of not being confirmed, thanks to a pile of allegations that even Republicans couldn’t get behind. We may even have to thank Oprah a bit for this.

One of the reasons given for withdrawing was that he was “tired of the abuse”. Classic abuser and oppressor trying to claim the role of victim.

Earlier this week I was thinking that putting a lot of effort into challenging these nominations might be a waste of time and energy and the best thing to do would be to strategize how to deal with them once confirmed to the administration. At the same time, it would never feel right to not stage a very vocal opposition ,regardless of knowing how it would ultimately play out. The protests and vocal criticism against Puzder played a huge part in his decision today. It can’t ever hurt to organize and oppose anything this administration does, whether it’s cabinet nominees or executive orders. We definitely need to do both of these things – fierce resistance while planning for worst outcomes.


Here’s my song of the day

[Guest Post] Industrialism vs Labor

Special thanks and appreciation to Isaac Hoppe for writing this. On point food for thought.


 

 

People, collectively, are not freer to pursue creative tasks nor less dependent on skills of self-reliance because of the Industrial Revolution. People are still trying to depend on those tasks to supplement their income or provide all of it, just like people have always done. Communication technology has had a much bigger impact on self-reliance and creative work than the Industrial Revolution had. Communication allowed people to access the new products and culture. The Arts & Crafts movement of the early 20th century demonstrated this, as art and pop culture at once suddenly became far more self-referential and sought to refresh skills that were being replaced by machines.

There is a conflict between automation and skills that continues to inform our culture. Automation cast as the answer to all our problems, a savior come to free us from drudgery, while skills such as knitting and even cooking are treated as kitschy, bourgeois hobbies rather than meaningful and practical tools for survival.

And modern life is suffering from that idea. We not only don’t regularly educate children in those skills anymore, we put their practice out of the reach of the poor simply as a consequence of supply and demand. The materials for creative work have gotten expensive because the burden is now almost entirely on an individual. The sharing economy hasn’t quite gotten to the idea of sharing, say, a loom or a kitchen, when it used to be quite common.

Once you’ve made something, though, then you have to navigate the marketplaces for creative works, places that are notoriously nightmarish for a seller and flooded with “creative works” that are impractical or only meant to be luxuries. Meaning, the buying side of the market in marketplaces such as Etsy, Fiverr, or Freelancer is extremely limited, not nearly enough demand to absorb the supply.

And the worst part? The worse the economy gets, the more people try to make ends meet with “creative tasks” but only know how to use their skills like a hobby, not a problem-solving tool.

To underline the problem with that, it’s worth citing a line from an image macro that is popular among my circle: “the backlash against minimum wage increases is really just capitalism admitting it can’t provide for its workers’; basic needs”. I’d level that finger against industrialism (not the same as just technology in general), instead, but the relevant point here is that our needs are not actually being met by the prevailing systems.

There is a happy little report by the UN stating that world poverty is at its lowest point ever, that fewer people are impoverished now than at any time since the UN was founded. Problem: the only metric they measured poverty by was income, regardless of how it affected ability to meet basic needs of nutrition, water and shelter.

Example: people in urban food deserts get a large portion of their diet from bodegas, where there is little or no fresh food available. Even if someone managed to game the system to receive a wealth of food stamps, what food is available to them is fundamentally detrimental to their health so having more to eat still wouldn’t meet their actual nutritional needs.

Industrialism is not going to address this kind of problem. We need to reclaim historic skills like gardening, canning, and sharing. And we need to look at those skills with a better lens, applying them to solve practical problems rather than generating more superfluous luxuries.

 


 

Today’s Reads:”Why does McDonald’s need four years to bring their workers out of poverty?”

This is actually a few days worth of reads. The screen on my laptop broke ,so it’s away being fixed (yay, warranty). So, I’ve had to share The Family Computer. Cross your fingers my laptop comes back to me quickly.

via 18mr:

“Why does McDonald’s need four years to bring their workers out of poverty?”

Things I love about Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s take on the $15 minimum wage plan announced by the mayor:

  1. She starts by crediting people around the country who have been organizing for $15/hr.
  2. She points out structural issues with the way the Mayor’s plan was developed and announced.
  3. She raises serious questions about the extended timeline.
  4. She points out that she led a process to develop a plan that was never voted on.

Kshama Sawant is kind of my hero right now.

Listen to the interview.

 

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via kateoplis:

Adjuncts Professors make up 76.4% of all US faculty, and the majority live below the poverty line.

Mary-Faith Cerasoli, above, is “sleeping in her car, showering at college athletic centers and applying for food stamps.”

“They call us professors, but they’re paying us at poverty levels…I just want to make a living from a skill I’ve spent 30 years developing.”

“Students aren’t getting what they pay for or, if they are, it is because adjuncts themselves are subsidizing their education.

The Adjunct Revolt | Atlantic

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One of my fave things about Saturdays on Twitter is #SaturdaySchool.

FunkNBeans put together The League of Hashtag Heroes: A Social Justice Hashtags Collection. Make fun of hashtags all you want but when you’re using social media to share ideas and expand your activism, good hashtags are essential.
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How Home Ownership Keeps Blacks Poorer Than Whites

(via boygeorgemichaelbluth)

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“50% of African-American children born in Mississippi grow up in poverty as opposed to 16% of white children” rethinkms.org/2014/05/02/rep

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US interests are best served when people around the world don’t go hungry. ow.ly/wpMKu

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Immigration Reform Is Partly About How Much Poverty to Welcome bit.ly/1kosdYo

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(Source: radio-inactive)

 

 

If you can’t afford to tip….

via askedout

There’s a piece of advice I have given my children. Watch how people interact with wait staff in restaurants. If they treat them like shit, they are not a good person. And I’m just talking about how rude & inconsiderate the behave during the meal. Not leaving a tip is on par with evil clowns.

 

Prison labor booms as unemployment remains high; companies reap benefits

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via thepeoplesrecord:

Prison labor booms as unemployment remains high; companies reap benefits

Prison labor is being harvested on a massive scale, according to professors Steve Fraser and Joshua B. Freeman.

“All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day,” the professors write.

And some prisoners don’t make a dime for their work, according to the Nation, which notes that many inmates in Racine, Wis. are not paid for their work, but receive time off their sentences.

The companies that do pay workers can get up to 40 percent of the money back in taxpayer-funded reimbursements, according to RT.

That not only puts companies that use prison labor at a distinct advantage against their competitors, but, according to Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, it means American workers lose out.

“It’s bad enough that our companies have to compete with exploited and forced labor in China,” Paul told the Nation. “They shouldn’t have to compete against prison labor here at home. The goal should be for other nations to aspire to the quality of life that Americans enjoy, not to discard our efforts through a downward competitive spiral.”

Companies like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, Starbucks and Walmart all take advantage of that so-called “competitive spiral.”

One of Walmart’s suppliers, Martori Farms, was the subject of an exposé by Truthout in which one female prisoner described her typical day working for the private company.

Currently, we are forced to work in the blazing sun for eight hours. We run out of water several times a day. We ran out of sunscreen several times a week. They don’t check medical backgrounds or ages before they pull women for these jobs. Many of us cannot do it! If we stop working and sit on the bus or even just take an unauthorized break, we get a major ticket which takes away our ‘good time’.

In response, Joseph Oddo, Martori Farms’ human resource director, told the Guardian that the company is no longer using inmates because prisons are not always able to provide workers on call the way they need. Oddo also said that workers were provided enough water, but the prisoners didn’t sip it slowly enough.

In a press release on Walmart’s site, Ron McCormick, vice-president for produce, said, “our relationship with Martori Farms is an excellent example of the kind of collaboration we strive for with our suppliers.”

Source