At a time when the American population is radicalizing, when popular movements are coalescing around “radical” demands—Medicare for All, the abolition of ICE, tuition-free college, in general the demand to make society livable for everyone—it can be useful to draw collective inspiration from the past. Irruptions of the popular will have on innumerable occasions reshaped history, remade the terrain of class struggle such that the ruling class was, at least for a moment, thrown on the defensive and forced to retreat.
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Labor / Economics
Stories about Labor and Economics.
Economists say they are stumped by a mystery: Since the US economy is doing so well, and unemployment is down to below 4%, which many argue is close to “full employment” in historic US terms, why is it that wages are not growing, and in fact, are lower in real dollars than they were in 1974, almost half a century ago.
Is your job pointless? Do you feel that your position could be eliminated and everything would continue on just fine? Maybe, you think, society would even be a little better off if your job never existed?
If your answer to these questions is “yes,” then take solace. You are not alone. As much as half the work that the working population engages in every day could be considered pointless, says David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and author of Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.
These are harrowing times for the nearly 1,500 migrant workers laboring on Vermont’s largest dairy farms. These farmworkers, predominantly from Mexico, are forced to live in the shadows, where their farm bosses harbor them in exchange for long hours, low wages, and cheap housing. It’s a human rights stain on the state, allowing these migrant workers to live and be treated this way.
Giant Chinese tech companies have bypassed credit cards and banks to create their own low-cost digital payment systems.
The US credit card system siphons off excessive amounts of money from merchants, who must raise their prices to cover this charge. In a typical $100 credit card purchase, only $97.25 goes to the seller. The rest goes to banks and processors. But who can compete with Visa and MasterCard?
On May 31st, Venezuelanalysis interviewed Angel Prado, a key organizer of El Maizal Commune. The conversation followed hard on the heels of an attempt to jail him and two other local organizers. The conversation sheds light on the current Chavista campesino struggle in Venezuela.
Most Venezuelanalysis readers know about El Maizal, both as an expression of communal popular power and because we covered the conflict in December surrounding your election as mayor of Simon Planas township (position that was subsequently given to another candidate by governmental decree). Nevertheless, it would be good to open with a brief synthesis of the communal project that you are involved in.
The Wobblies emerged more than a century ago, a revolutionary, anti-capitalist union that shook up the nation’s industrialists, including Oregon’s timber barons.
Their political descendants no longer toil in logging camps on the American frontier. Now they’re behind the counters of a beloved fast-food chain in Portland, up to their elbows in burger grease, marionberries and Walla Walla onion rings.
There is serious consideration of establishing a State Bank in California--the fifth largest economy in the world--to enable the state bank to both serve their population and add income to the state's budget. Interestingly, this is being advocated by leading politicians in the state, people who have serious popular support.
I often have occasion to think that, as an “intellectual,” I’m very lucky to be alive at this time in history, at the end of the long evolution from Herodotus and the pre-Socratic philosophers to Chomsky and modern science. One reason for my gratitude is simply that, as I wrote long ago in a moment of youthful idealism, “the past is a kaleidoscope of cultural achievements, or rather a cornucopian buffet whose fruits I can sample—a kiwi here, a mango there—a few papayas—and then choose which are my favorite delicacies—which are healthiest, which savory and sweet—and invent my own diet tailored to my needs. History can be appropriated by each person as he chooses,” I gushed, “selectively employed in the service of his self-creation. The individual can be more complete than ever in the past!”