The Latest in Corporate Contempt for Workers   2 comments

You’re not going to believe this. Then again, maybe you will.

Remember the job I was telling you about? Nine days of unpaid training and the need to pass a bunch of proficiency tests, after which we were to start a part-time, no-benefits contract job for $9.50 an hour? Today I received a notice congratulating me on passing the final test. Unfortunately, the notice then went on to inform me that the project has been canceled. Just like that. There will be no jobs for anyone. No reason was given.

I’m still reeling from the news. While it may not sound like much, in our current situation, this job was like a lifeline. True, it was a contract job, but the contract period was to be extended indefinitely, and we’re desperate for any kind of steady income. Also, while the pay was low and the hours limited, there was a clear path to advancement, which would have meant better pay and more hours in the future. Most of all, we have no other source of income right now. None. Which is why I worked my ass off during the training period, even spending precious time away from my critically ill Balou because I really, really needed this job to work out.

The job was scheduled to start today. When I didn’t hear from my supervisor yesterday, I was a bit worried that maybe I hadn’t done as well as I thought on the final test, but it never occurred to me that the whole project had been canceled. That there might not be any work at the end of the training period even after passing all the proficiency tests with flying colors (which, it turns out, I did) was never even mentioned as a possibility.
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Sex, Class, and Occupy Wall Street   19 comments

I’ve been following the Occupy movement with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s the first thing in a very long time that’s given me any hope for this country. It’s high time that we start focusing on economic injustice and the damage done by the greed of the mega rich and the corruption of those who do their bidding. The system is badly broken, as evidenced by the fact that politicians of both major parties are talking austerity and cuts to safety net programs at a time of record unemployment, growing poverty, and economic inequality comparable to the developing world. Clearly there’s a desperate need for a movement that raises awareness of the class war the wealthy have been waging on the rest of us.

Which brings me to my first issue with Occupy Wall Street. Who exactly are “the rest of us”? From a branding perspective, the 99% versus the 1% is very appealing. But is it accurate? Clearly not. If your household income is half a million a year, I’d say the system has been working very well for you. You may even be part of the problem if you outsource jobs or pay workers less than a living wage. But you’re still part of the 99%.

At the same time, “the 99%” has become synonymous with the downtrodden, debt-ridden, and dispossessed. I remember a Tumblr entry written from the perspective of a small child who’d witnessed her mom cry because she was unable to buy her kid a birthday present. It ended with the words, “My mom doesn’t know that I know we’re part of the 99%.” Huh? The mom doesn’t realize her kid knows she makes less than $590,000 a year? No wonder people are confused. I’ve seen numerous blog posts and comments by individuals with low six-figure incomes stating that they “stand with the 99%.” No, actually, if you have a low six-figure income, you are the 99%. In fact, if your household income totals $190,000, it could triple and you would still be part of the 99%.

So. Not very useful, is it? The bottom 90%, on the other hand, have an average household income of $31,244, which is probably more like what people have in mind when discussing the economic difficulties experienced by “the 99%.”
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Poor Woman Gets Three Year Prison Sentence for Lying to Feed Children   Leave a comment

File this one under the “war on poor women” AND the “war on (certain people who use certain) drugs.”

Anita McLemore has been trying to beat her drug addiction for over fifteen years. It’s been a struggle, not made any easier by the four felony convictions she has amassed during that time. After all, finding a job that pays a living wage and escaping poverty is an enormous challenge even if you’re not a convicted felon.

Hungry and desperate, the Mississippi mother of two turned to the food stamp program for help. There was just one problem. The application included a question about prior felony drug convictions and a statement indicating that convicted drug felons are not eligible for food assistance and deserve to starve to death (okay, it didn’t really say that last part but it might as well have). So McLemore did what just about any mom with hungry kids and no other options would do in this situation. She lied.

For this lie, she has now been sentenced to three years in federal prison (via TGW), followed by three years of supervised release and a $250 fine. Desperate to stay out of prison and remain with her children, McLemore had managed to pay back every penny of the government benefits she received. It made no difference. In fact, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate went out of his way to impose a sentence much harsher than the 2-8 months of incarceration followed by probation called for by federal guidelines.

The reason? Judge Wingate was disgusted by McLemore’s multiple drug convictions and outraged that the state courts had mostly allowed her to remain out of prison to take care of her children and seek treatment instead of locking her up like the hardened criminal she clearly is.
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Dear Dick   Leave a comment

As if you needed any more evidence that congressional Democrats are completely out of touch with the needs of the people they are supposed to represent, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is close to Obama and frequently thought to be signaling the President’s positions on issues, announced yesterday that massive deficit reduction is “the challenge of our generation,” urging fellow Democrats as well as Republicans to “seize [the] moment” by supporting a truly “historic” package that would, without question, include deep cuts to social safety net programs. Because what we really need in this country is even more desperate people who are unable to make ends meet.

If Dick Durbin thinks debt reduction is the preeminent challenge we’re facing, all I can figure is that he must be living in some alternate universe. Which I guess he is. Durbin and the rest of the millionaires’ club in the Senate are so far removed from the lives of the people they were elected to represent that they might as well be from another dimension. The deficit that so concerns Durbin and the DC establishment barely even registers as a concern for the people in my community. Indeed, the only reason it registers at all is the ruling class’ relentless propaganda campaign.

Let me tell you, Dick, what people in my California community are concerned about. Our county’s official unemployment rate is 14.7%, but the real unemployment rate in our neck of the woods is at least 10-12 percentage points higher. Sometimes a whole week goes by without a single “help wanted” ad appearing in the local paper (not counting “make thousands stuffing envelopes from home” schemes and the like). Jobs are so scarce and people are so desperate for work that a supermarket putting up a Help Wanted sign for three no-benefits, minimum wage positions received hundreds of applications in a matter of hours.

While at least one in four are unemployed, many more are underemployed or stuck in low wage jobs that don’t pay enough to cover the basics. The lack of discretionary income in the area has devastated small businesses. The barbershop that used to cut my partner’s hair, the Mexican restaurant we occasionally stopped by for takeout before our car broke down and we couldn’t afford to get it fixed, the two Internet cafés we visited a couple of times per month to escape the unbearable slowness of our dialup connection–they’ve all closed their doors. So have countless other businesses during the last few years. You can’t run a business without customers, and most people in our area have no money to spend.
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The Economy’s Real Confidence Problem   Leave a comment

I haven’t blogged much during the past few months because I’ve been super busy with work. The joys of freelancing are such that you can go for weeks with so little work that you’re unable to pay your bills and have nightmares about being evicted, when, suddenly, several clients want to hire you at once, and of course they all need you to get started yesterday. Since you don’t know when the next paying gig is coming your way, you don’t dare tell any of them that it’ll be a couple of weeks before you can get started on their project lest they hire someone else, so you end up putting in 12 hour days, 7 days a week.

As jobs are increasingly outsourced or replaced with temporary contract work, more Americans will find themselves in our shoes. That’s bad for workers, but it’s also bad for the overall economy. Aside from the lack of pensions, 401Ks, and health care benefits, people who aren’t confident they’ll have much income next month won’t be spending much money this month. They certainly won’t be making any big purchases. You may have had a good month or two, but since you can’t be confident that you’ll continue to get work, you save every dollar you don’t absolutely need to spend.

Of course it’s not just contract workers who lack confidence. With a lousy economy and sky high unemployment figures, those fortunate enough to have a full-time job that pays a living wage realize just how precarious their position is. If you are laid off, it could take a very long time to find a new job. Better save that discretionary income in case your job makes tracks to China or India.
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“Conceived in Rape” Tour’s Rebecca Kiessling Is Much Like Daddy   9 comments

This November, Mississippi will be voting on an anti-abortion ballot measure to amend the state constitution by redefining the meaning of the word “person” to include fertilized eggs. Under the proposed language, personhood would begin at the moment of conception, granting full rights to zygote Mississippians. While the Personhood amendment would have amusing implications for everything from carpool lanes to redistricting, what’s not amusing at all is what would happen to reproductive rights if Ballot Measure 26 becomes law.

The Personhood amendment would outlaw all abortions in the state. Also under attack is emergency contraception. And in neither case would there be an exception for victims of rape or incest. While the amendment, if passed, is likely to be challenged in federal court and declared unconstitutional, it’s the increasing hostility toward rape victims I want to discuss.

It used to be that most forced pregnancy activists supported rape and incest exceptions. Whether it was compassion for the victims, or a desire to punish only “sluts” who willingly had sex, or wanting to protect men from the possibility of having to raise the offspring of their wife’s rapist, or perhaps a combination of those factors–until fairly recently, most anti-choicers were not advocating prolonging the torture of a 13-year-old incest victim by forcing her to give birth to her own sister. “No exceptions” was largely the battle cry of the farthest right fringe.

In the last 2-3 years, however, this fringe position was propelled into the mainstream by the likes of Sarah “No Mercy for Rape and Incest Victims” Palin, and minds began to change. For Personhood Mississippi, though, they’re not changing fast enough, and so the group pushing Mississippi’s Personhood amendment decided to launch a “Conceived in Rape” Tour. Yes, you read that right. The “Conceived in Rape” Tour’s featured speaker is professional forced pregnancy activist and family law attorney Rebecca Kiessling, who is an excellent example of why I would always abort the spawn of rapists.
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Progressive Dudes and Clueless Rape Analogies   6 comments

[Trigger warning for vile rape analogy, sexual assault, and self-injury.]

So I followed a link from Ian Welsh’s blog to read this supposedly awesome piece on Obama. It may well be awesome, but unfortunately I’ll never know. Because a few paragraphs into what’s a very long post, I came across this:

“He’s [referring to Obama] dealing with people [referring to the Republicans] whose idea of compromise is a woman having an orgasm while she is raped.”

WTF?!? Needless to say, there was no trigger warning and nothing in the post’s title or Welsh’s recommendation prepared me for this disgusting analogy. My interest in the piece came to an abrupt end and I began to feel physically sick. Images of being raped flashed through my mind. Pretending to be into it so my rapist wouldn’t kill me.

And I thought of a friend who was forced by her rapist to experience an orgasm during the attack. Afterward he claimed it couldn’t have been rape because “she came” and most people agreed with him. Worst of all, my friend blamed herself and began despising the body she felt betrayed her. Even though she understood intellectually that what another friend and I were telling her was true, that the human body responds to stimuli whether we want it to or not and that what her rapist did to her is a torture technique designed to humiliate and destroy victims, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was sick and disgusting because her body experienced arousal during the assault. As a result, she developed an eating disorder and began cutting and burning herself. THAT is the reality of “a woman having an orgasm while she is raped.”
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