Class


Yes, i’m neglectful. I will return to this blog on day…but i’m still waiting for the inspiration to strike me.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this headdesker.

While looking for jobs, I found an “opportunity” with a major community health initiative as a recruiter/organizer. Looked promising, until the two following details emerged.

1. The pay was under 15 an hour. This alone is not fatal.
2. Health benefits did not start for a half year. This is.

Tell me how a community health initiative gets away without insuring it’s own workers? Working poverty is wrong, period. This nation won’t be right until there’s universal health care and a living wage.

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Vanessa points me to some fauxgressive posturing, and the question of “who pays for” the children of the poor.

Last time I checked, working poverty is an externality. The true cost of the labor and life of these workers is not reflected in their pay. We all pay the difference. The worker pays most directly, with loss of opportunities and recompense. Probably at the expense of their health as well.

The state, and the rest of us, pay in a variety of ways. Perhaps direct assistance, food stamps, etc. More likely we pay in lost payroll taxes, healthcare costs shifted to the state, and unrealized economic gains related to working class spending…a primary driver of local economies.

All so that the company who hires such a person can do so below the cost of what it really costs to have that work done. A profit, which isn’t even a zero-sum gain. For every dollar the company pockets, we don’t just lose that dollar. We lose all the productivity, labor, and gain that might have come if the worker had been paid fairly, been able to spend those wages, or invest them.

Who do we expect pays for this?

The worker. Us.

It’s that simple, really. Poverty wages are a neat way of saying “theft.”

-sly

The beeb reports today that researchers have found the problem for why oil is expensive and food is scarce.

No, it’s not global capitolism run amok. Or even bio-fuel schemes that reap huge profits for agri-business.

It’s fatties.

My shorter reaction.

Fuck you!

My longer reaction.

Health is not just a weight issue, or even primarily so. Health is a race issue, a class issue, and a deliberate choice about the way we decided to build cities. Let’s talk about these things…let’s talk about the way the greens and the fruits at the bodega are still expensive but hardly fresh, let’s talk about how superfund sites just happen to concentrate in poor areas, let’s talk about the highways that paved over livable neighborhoods, and how these places still don’t have green space, made dangerous by a lethal cocktail of poverty and neglect.

And then…

Only then…

Will such “researchers” learn that what they do is worthless self-promotion.

-sly

He wasn’t supposed to be there. I don’t recall exactly why. If I think about it hard enough, his stop should have been a mile back. The bus was nearing my house, and I was at least slightly concerned.

He wanted our attention so badly. He was a bully, a clown. He was also capable of being very mean. I think he was held back, or at least he was large for his age. I was small.

5th percentile small. Off the charts small. They actually drew my line in the margins when I went to the doctor.

I don’t recall exactly how it began, or why. All I know is that I recall being very scared as he moved around, hoping that I would be safe. He sat down next to me.

He sat down next to five of us, boys and girls alike, all in turn. In the third grade, I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened. We were bundled up like snowmen, but the intent was unmistakable. Possessive, hostile, hurtful.

We got off the bus, but he still wanted to play. He called after us. We ran to our parents.

We spent the next day in very serious tones, talking to the adults. I think we all cried.

In many ways, we were lucky. He was already a problem child, we were the good kids. Our parents held clout, and there was no doubt what would happen once we told. All together, we were believed.

We shouldn’t have been lucky. Luck, privilege, should have nothing to do with being believed as a survivor of sexual assault. The right thing to do is not a scarce good to be doled out to the “right” victims, and withheld from the bad. Nobody deserves to be hurt like that, everyone deserves compassionate response after trauma.

I say this mostly because of what I have learned with age. A 3rd grader does not accidentally sit down next to fellow children on a bus and violate them. This is learned behavior. I didn’t see him for years…and while he still struck terror into me every time I saw him, it was accompanied by a growing and sickly sense of compassion.

One that did not forget my pain. One that did not demand anything. But one that told me that whatever he had done to us, had been sown in his life tenfold. I pass his house sometimes, small and rundown. I pray that he has healed. I pray that the evil done in that place might somehow be undone.

-sly

Today, a small town is being filled with witnesses who are there in body and spirit to see and to say the truth.

I cannot be there in person, but I feel the need to remind myself that the world of Jena is the same world that I inhabit.

Jena is not a southern thing. It is not a small town thing. It is not an accident. It is not an aberration. It is not anything other than the status quo, the enactment of racism through law.

Mychal Bell is one more in a long line of black men who have been sacrificed to our sense of law and order, caught up by a system of gesture, code, and power that enforces apartheid. From the Scottsboro boys, to Amadou Diallo, to Rodney King, to criminalization of poverty and addiction…

We are living in such world as Jena, where the codes are as strict as they are unwritten.

We must free the Jena Six.

Justice, and only justice.

-sly

No, not the HRC. The other one.

It came to my attention, talking with a fellow politico the other day, that I probably am in possession of a rather irrational dislike of one Hillary R. Clinton. I bickered for a good while with my friend as to whether or not the Hill was deserving of funds from her organization.

Right wing turns on immigration.

Suggestions of the abolition of abortion.*

Poisoned “support” of queer communities that panders to the sellouts.

A history of support of unchecked free-capitol trade.**

Then again, as I have repeated many a time in the last months: There is not a single acceptable candidate for the Democratic nomination in the race.

Not a single one.

Every contender is to my eyes, fatally flawed with compromised positions, status quo preserving double talk, and sheer un-electability. I do question my particular vehimence against Shillary, and I tend to think that it may be rooted in my growing feeling of betrayal by the Clintonian politics of my youth. For some time, I had seen Bill as heroically liberal, only to grow in understanding that he’d been anything but. The suggestion that he’d told Kerry to support the FMAs came as a final straw, obliterating any residual good will.

The problem, I have come to understand, is that most of my fellow Americans are damned idiots, and get precisely the government that they deserve. Sadly, we have yet to find a way to contain the misery produced by such poor judgment onto those most responsible.

-sly

*This is why “safe, legal, rare” is not an acceptable tagline for a progressive. You start talking like this, and you reinforce the perception that those who engage their choice to terminate a pregnancy are either victims or moral weaklings. Holistic family planning is a good. Surrendering to the moral outlook of the forced natalist crowd is not.

** As distinguished from a system in which labor is equally liquid.

To borrow the Weberian phrase…

If you haven’t seen it already…go see BFP’s “state brutality is not an anomaly.” It’s spot on.

I’ve talked about distrust of the state before, in terms of a queer/trans politic, and it’s stuff like this that makes it so important. The question is not what particularly happened there, though those details are important. The question is how does modern American life depend on a police system designed to inculcate obedience through terror? How does the political/social/legal creation of an underclass serve the needs of the privileged few?

A few excerpts from The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America by Mark Lewis Taylor on the theology of state violence:

The phrase the executed God reminds us that the God who was bound up with the life of Jesus of Nazareth was exposed to material conditions so malignant that he was executed. Jesus did not die accidentally.

Her blunt words speak more truth than perhaps she knew…”Without Rikers, the attractive lives some us lead in the nice sections of New York would not be possible.”

The spread of more vigorous and extensive police forces is a key example. The forces know how to wield technology and drama to control neighborhoods….The very spectacle of forces, the entrancing and awesome show, helped create acceptance of repressive paramilitary tactics.

Police, and the prison-industrial complex which they serve have become tools of terror. If we are comfortable, it is because we have told ourselves that we exist on the right side of the law. But when the law is lawless, there is no safety…and we has chased after an idol.

May we seek the mercy of the Jesus of the prisoners, the persecuted, the rebels, the campesinos, the migrants, and the alien.

-sly

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