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Gender: Female
Hometown: Wisconsin
Current location: Tejas
Member since: Thu Jan 17, 2008, 01:44 PM
Number of posts: 31,869

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The most violent element in society is ignorance. Emma Goldman

Journal Archives

The Forgotten Radical History Of Labor Day

By Ben Railton ~ September 7, 2015

As with every victory achieved by the labor movement (including eight-hour workdays, the weekend, health protections, child labor laws, and numerous other successes), Labor Day would not exist without the movement’s more radical and activist elements and efforts. Remembering the holiday’s origins can thus help us not only celebrate all that the labor movement has achieved, but also recognize the continued need for radical activism.

It’s become commonplace to complain about how the true meanings of our American holidays have been forgotten in favor of weekend sales, cookouts and family gatherings. But the problem is particularly clear when it comes to Labor Day. While holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July still feature prominent collective and media reminders of their historical and cultural significance alongside the barbeques and beach trips, Labor Day has become almost entirely divorced from its origins and associated instead with one last burst of summer fun before the fall and new school year commence in earnest.

In an era when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has made his name by attacking and destroying labor unions in his state, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has recently argued that the national teachers union deserves “a punch in the face,” remembering Labor Day’s true origins feels more important than ever. Even if we leave these partisan voices aside, our current moment represents the culmination of decades of rising anti-union sentiment among many Americans, a trend that has not coincidentally occurred alongside plummeting numbers in union membership.

The question of who is responsible for the creation of a holiday devoted to labor remains in some dispute. For many years it was attributed to Peter McGuire, a carpenter who became a national labor leader in the 1880s; recently historians have argued instead for Matthew Maguire, a machinist and leader of the New York Central Labor Union (CLU) ...

More here: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/radical-origins-of-labor-day

The best Kim Davis Memes this week ~

Demonizing the Poor

by Sanford Schram & Joe Soss

They are new variants of old practices that work to shore up work compliance, service business interests, impose moral programs on the poor, and strengthen broader political alliances and agendas.

In April, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a new set of welfare rules titled, with an Orwellian flourish, the HOPE Act. The measure, Brownback stated, “provides an opportunity for success. It’s about the dignity of work and helping families move from reliance on a government pittance to becoming self-sufficient by developing the skills to find a well-paying job and build a career.”

Yet as critics were quick to point out, the new law was clearly more about limiting poor people’s decisions than about building their careers. The HOPE Act prohibits Kansas welfare recipients from withdrawing more than $25 in benefits per day and makes it illegal to spend public aid on jewelry, tattoos, massages, spa treatments, lingerie, tobacco, movies, bail bonds, arcade games, visits to swimming pools, fortunetellers, amusement parks, or ocean cruises.

Not to be outdone by their neighbor, Missouri’s legislators were soon debating whether to prohibit the use of foods stamps (officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) for lobster as well as cookies, chips, energy drinks, and steak.

Federal rules may make it hard to put such restrictions into practice, as Florida officials have discovered after repeatedly mandating an invasive drug-testing regime for welfare recipients, but the feds can hardly be counted on for opposition. Last year Congress expanded its long list of welfare restrictions, prohibiting the withdrawal of cash welfare benefits at casinos, liquor stores, or strip clubs. As of April, twenty-three states had imposed additional limits on the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, and eighteen other states were considering the same ...

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/welfare-republicans-sam-brownback-race-corporations/

The Global Race to the Bottom

by Lucia Pradella ~ 9/1/15

In a capitalist society profits come from workers’ living labor, so increasing productivity is not aimed at improving living standards, but rather at lowering the relative wage — that is, the difference between the value produced and the value retained by the workers. Capital accumulation thus tends towards an increasing polarization between relative wealth and poverty, which can coexist with increasing living standards for some sections of the working class.

Unemployment has reached unprecedented heights in Western Europe, wages are declining, and attacks on organized labor are intensifying. Nearly a quarter of Western Europe’s population, about 92 million people, was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2013. That’s nearly 8.5 million more people than before the crisis.

The poverty, material deprivation, and super-exploitation traditionally associated with the Global South are reemerging in the rich parts of Europe.

The crisis is undermining the “European social model,” and its assumption that employment protects individuals from poverty. The number of working poor — employed workers in households with an annual income below the poverty threshold — is growing, and austerity is going to make things much worse in the future.

Critics of austerity argue that it is absurd and counterproductive, but European leaders disagree. During the latest round of negotiations with Greece, German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued, “This is not about several billion euros — this is fundamentally about how the EU can stay competitive in the world.” ...

More here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/merkel-austerity-globalization-eu-poverty/

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