Tag Archives: living wage

Minimum Wage = Maximum Rage

Check out the above graphic. A week only has 168 hours total, including sleep time and weekends. Let’s say that the average person needs a bare minimum average of 6 hours of sleep each night, that would subtract 42 hours so 168 – 42= 126 waking hours available to work. Continue reading

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What is “Pro-Life”?

What is a “culture of life”? How do you define it? When someone speaks of a “culture of life” or “pro-life” agenda, it is usually assumed that abortion is the topic at hand. Abortion is not the only issue that pertains to the sanctity of life. If someone wants to literally be a pro-life voter, there are a wide variety of policies that that moniker supports.

How about starting with an easy one? The death penalty. Is there anything more clearly pro-death? There is no logic in calling yourself “pro-life” when you support the death penalty. If you support the death penalty you are saying that you are morally ok with not only killing people, but letting the (fallible) state decide which people to kill with your blessing.  Perhaps someone has other moral reasons they can cite for supporting the death penalty, but they can’t still call themselves “pro-life” with any integrity.

Here’s another gimme – war. War = death, it’s kind of the modus operandi for winning a war. Aside from the direct killing of soldiers by soldiers, with war comes countless life altering tragedies and injuries. The pollution of war equals death to those living things around it. The corruption inside war equals death for those willing to take risks for money or power. The private contractors are let loose to roam lawlessly across the land, bringing violence and oppression. Living in an occupied land means living in fear; simply being alive is not the same as living. Please don’t call yourself pro-life if you support war, especially pre-emptive ones wars of aggression.

Is it part of a culture of life to allow corporations to pollute our water supplies, harm our animals, disrupt natural systems, and poison our food? Is it life giving to look away as humans are abused and exploited in the name of profit? All life relies on a certain level of purity to our air, land, and water, there is nothing – no industry, no product, no privilege – that makes it acceptable to poison us all.  If you don’t believe in protecting the sanctity of nature and those natural systems that sustain life, you are not pro-life.

Universal health care is pro-life. We can live our lives when our basic health care needs are attended to. Unchecked pain, fear of debt, and exclusive access – hallmarks of a health care system that puts profits before patients – is not pro-life (it’s pro-profit). In fact, someone in a dismal health care situation is more likely to consider numbing pain or their reality in an unhealthy way.

Humans are not born to be slaves, we each want to carry on with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When corporations turn us into slaves, or indentured servants, or take away our dignity, or abuse us, or force us to work against our morals, we are alive, yet not. When a company sucks the life out of you so you have nothing for your family, no time for community, and no living wage, they are not working on a pro-life agenda. Like stories you can read from our own history of slavery, the plantation owners were all for more babies, they couldn’t wait for those babies to become commodities. In those stories you can read the anguish of the enslaved parents at bringing another life into the world under hellish conditions, knowing that their offspring will be treated like expendable chattle. An unregulated capitalist dynamic promotes death to humanity.

Guns may be useful in providing sustenance for families – we are at the top of the food chain and all humans (even vegans) have some amount of “death” in their diet (think of the earthworms). It is part of our natural evolution to eat meat, but guns aren’t a part of our natural evolution and they are used for so much more. Guns can and have brought about human death on an epidemic scale. Handguns and automatic weapons are designed to kill people (sure target practice is fun but you don’t need steel bullets to pierce a piece of paper-that is not its end use). Those working to limit the availability of guns and frequency of human death caused by guns would earn the “pro-life” moniker more readily than those that believe all guns should be available and unrestricted. Gun lovers want to be prepared kill; killing is pro-death.

Again, even with acknowledging our omnivorous tendencies, humans often kill animals unnecessarily. Animal testing, environmental devastation, cruelty, or entertainment. If you are a polluter, a trophy hunter, a sadist, an eater of factory farm animals, or a supporter animal testing – you can’t say you are pro-life. There are humane standards for how to treat animals – even how to end their lives if we are going to eat them. Treating animals humanely is pro-life.

The joining of a sperm and egg is a special moment in time – especially if that sperm and egg are going to unite, go full term and become a person. Eggs are fertilized round the globe, round the clock, in every species that procreates via sex.  All of those moments are special if they create another being. For some of us, we want to protect all of those zygotes – at least human ones, for others, we want to focus on the living breathing people that have already arrived. Those that are pro-choice may believe in the sanctity of life just as much as those who are anti-abortion; they could also claim the title of “pro-life”.

It is pro-life to help moms-to-be get nutrition and health care.

It is pro-life to help mom-to-be get educated.

It is pro-life to ensure the baby has adequate nutrition and child care.

It is pro-life to see that all families are earning living wages for their work.

It is pro-life to provide education for the child.

It is pro-life to require unpolluted space to raise a family.

It is pro-life to stop war.

It is pro-life to recognize that life is much, much more than anything that could be held in a petri dish.

Anti abortion advocates work for what they believe in, we should respect that they are following their own moral code at the very least. For many of them, the struggle is a spiritual calling, which is an honorable quest. However, a heightened level of sanctimony tends to come with the “pro-life” label and it is part of why this debate is so polarizing. Pro-choice advocate are not the opposite of pro-life, far from it. Many times those same advocates also don’t like war, guns, pollution, or our grave corporate machinery. Recognize that though your idea of life – no matter which “side” of the debate you’re on – does not have a monopoly on supporting life. We need to break this frame and call anti-abortion activists exactly that – unless they want to consider the entire roster of ways our state sanctions killing. Voting “pro-life” means voting in the interest of all living humans, not just one issue.

Pro-choice could be broken down in a similar manner. Both labels, “pro-life” and “pro-choice”, are the products of marketing an idea. They are good hooks, but inaccurate. Let’s use our hearts and brains to talk to one another about these issues important to us.

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Greed is not Good (or God)

Graphic of socialism's "takeover" of the market by The Atlantic.

In America, the cheerleaders of capitalism are happy with the socialist measures and regulations that protect them – like the police that protects their property, the legal system that supports their contracts, the infrastructure that educates their employees, the roads that allow their products to be shipped, the water quality they process with, the airwaves that deliver their commercials, the subsidization of business, the inspections that protect their goods from tainted goods, the military that (literally) fights for them, the public clean up of their pollution, the people dealing with health complications from their poisons, the fire departments that will assist them – then any measures that smack of socialism that do not further their money making or power status are demonized. “Socialist!”, is the current red scare tactic.

Mortgage companies, banks, retailers, service businesses, Wall Street, Ayn Rand, Republicans and conservatives all line up behind the same idea – the idea that the consumer will protect their own interest in financial matters. This principle is pretty much the only imposed moral in the capitalist system – that everyone looks out for themselves and it is a dog eat dog world. It follows a supposed economic law that matches the natural law “of the jungle” – which is kill or be killed (for a visual illustration you can see a video here in a post). If everyone started with the same opportunities, this principle would work better – and everyone will never have the same opportunities – but there is a more serious failure of logic in this basic principle. Gaining money is not the same as surviving, humanity does not figure into the capitalist equation.

In true natural law, some very basic animalistic impulses are in operation – fight or flight insticts, the need for food and water, the need to rear and protect our young, the need for shelter, and conserving energy to insure completion of all of the above before any other activities. Every mammal on the planet acts on these survival principles, humans included. While money may be one method to secure basic survival, it is not always the most efficient means. All of the above survival needs can be met in ways that do not involve money. As we are seeing in the recent upsurge of homesteading and wilderness survival skills popularity, food, shelter and water can be gained without monetary transactions taking place. Bartering can figure in to many goods and services. Co-operatives can be formed that may be comprised of many resources in which money is only one of them. Capitalists cheerleaders operate on the principle that our desire to accumulate money will provide all the regulation needed to keep our capitalist system honest. Obviously they are wrong.

The disasters that capitalism create, especially as legalese and complexities of format escalate, are massive. The mortgage crisis, the banking bailouts, the World Bank, the IMF, oil speculation, Wall Street bonuses rewarding failure, massive layoffs – these are all examples of how capitalism fails humanity (and the list could go on).

Exercise is needed for all of us to survive, if we don’t move around, we atropy and get sick (not to mention that we would then need help getting sustenance). Some of us humans are excellent at exercising: we may be natural athletes, choose to train, have an active lifestyle, or become fit as a by product of a life of survival. Some of us humans are very bad at getting exercise: we may have a sedentary lifestyle, have a poor diet which hinders energy/movement, hate exercise, or be injured/ill. Imagine for a moment if physical fitness was substituted for economic fitness, and Wall Street bonuses were distributed according to physical fitness tests, how unfair that might seem to those with extra poundage, or asthma, or disabilities. Ironically physical fitness is actually much more tied to our literal survival than accumulating numbers in an account.

Very few of us have trained to be elite economists or have the natural ability to be masterful with our finances. Most of us have only taken high school level consumer education (if that) and almost none of us are educated in the legal acrobatics involved in “creative” mortgages or finances. Like the exercise metaphor, most of us do the minimum amount of effort required to keep things running smoothly – that actually applies to pretty much everything that isn’t a personal passion. Only those with a passion for capitalism do well in a capitalist system.

Lots of folks would apparently rather gaze lovingly at a pile of cash than go to a little league game, they’d rather count their coins than help a friend in need, they don’t see the point of having a rich life when they could simply be rich – they’re the Hoarding Horde. For them, greed is good, greed is God. There is no calling in life above making money and they have no sympathy for those of us that have to prioritize things – like the survival of our family – to be more important than figuring out the latest tricks of the marketplace. They have convinced themselves and been supported with the likes of Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, and the Republican leadership that holds up economic Darwinism as a model. If they can’t see or accept that a purely capitalist system is extremely cold hearted (foolish babies would rather eat a quarter than spend it), they might need to join the ranks of the other sociopaths that are screwing the world up for the rest of us (which I wrote about here).

America is already a mix of socialism and capitalism. It is American to regulate, it is American to tax, it is American to care about those around us, it is American to succeed through your own work – all of these ideas can live together in harmony. We can tolerate those bits that aren’t our favorites – like paying taxes or keeping social programs we don’t use – because they come in the parcel that is America and it means we have the freedom and liberty to do some other things we really like. When one idea gains too much power and acts as an authoritarian force, we stop acting like America. Right now the capitalist forces are in power – Republicans are proud of it, Dems try to hide their ties, but the capitalists are winning. Because capitalists are on top, they use their position to cry “socialist!” at the slightest suggestion of collective negotiating power.

It’s time to stop. Socialism is not a bad word, democratic socialism means putting policies in place due to the wishes of the people, not a dictator. As George W. Bush lamented several times, the Presidency is not a dictatorship, and even if the President wanted to command us to implement socialism, our political system does not work that way. Governing policies must make their way through Congress which implies a tacit approval from the people.

Some of us have better things to do than fuss over money; we just need to make sure the bills are paid so that we may continue with what really counts for us. A different economic class of people choose to manipulate other people’s money and the rules surrounding them so that they can rake in more for themselves. The people in group A don’t want to be like the people of group B and it is pretty callous to insist that they should rearrange their priorities in order to “make it”, that is in order to have a decent job, shelter, and a nurturant environment for our families.  That is why the concept of the living wage was developed, so we could have an understanding of what is decent in our capitalist society, because “the market” doesn’t care about hunger, shelter, sickness, or families. Money in the bank is not the same as a full, rich and virtuous life; choosing a life that does not focus on money does not make you unAmerican or immoral; it makes you human.

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“Get a Job” and Other Cruel Jokes

“Get a Job”, is a common thing to hear when you are demonstrating against anything. If you protest the high level of unemployment, there will still be oblivious hecklers that scream “get a job”, as they tear by in their gas guzzlers. I guess the irony is lost on them. The meme is a common one, many conservatives believe that if there are any jobs available, there should not be unemployment. They paint a picture of entitlement where the job seeker is lazy. Speaking from experience, being unemployed is one of the more exhausting occupations I’ve ever had. Continue reading

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