Sometimes I collect a big backlog of articles that are important but that I don’t have time to parse and share at the time I read them. Here are some views from the left I collected. TLDR: We need unions, we need left politics and we need to care about each other.
Sam Wallman’s “If They Could Pay Us Less, They Would” is a comic that showcases why a high minimum wage is necessary, but not sufficient, for all of us to live good lives.
“Better education doesn’t correlate strongly to economic mobility (but union membership does)” a piece on Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow opens the door a crack on a study that points out that the keys to better lives tend to be “higher minimum wages, the presence and strength of labor unions, and clear career pathways within local industries.”
Another article indicating education is not sufficient for moving us forward is Lonnae O’Neal’s “Ibram Kendi, One of the Nation’s Leading Scholars of Racism, Says Education and Love Are Not the Answer“. In the article, the problems of systemic racism are highlighted:
Education, love and exemplary black people will not deliver America from racism, Kendi says. Racist ideas grow out of discriminatory policies, he argues, not the other way around. And if his new center can help identify and dismantle those policies in the U.S. and around the world, he believes we can start to eliminate racism. At least that’s the goal.
“We have been taught that ignorance and hate lead to racist ideas, lead to racist policies,” Kendi said. “If the fundamental problem is ignorance and hate, then your solutions are going to be focused on education, and love and persuasion. But of course [Stamped from the Beginning] shows that the actual foundation of racism is not ignorance and hate, but self-interest, particularly economic and political and cultural.” Self-interest drives racist policies that benefit that self-interest. When the policies are challenged because they produce inequalities, racist ideas spring up to justify those policies. Hate flows freely from there.
In another article from Cory Doctorow, “Shared Destinies: Why Wealth Inequality Matters“, he muses about a tipping point for wealth inequality and offers the hope that we will be wise and kind enough to work together:
So much many of us are poor today than just a few decades ago; after the world wars’ orgies of capital destruction, wealth reached unprecedented levels of even distribution. After all, the poor had little to lose in the war, and the rich hedged their war-losses by loaning governments money to fight on, and so many of those debts were never paid. The next thirty years—the French call them “Les Trentes Glorieuses”—saw the creation of the GI Bill, the British and French welfare states, and the rise of an anti-capitalist, anti-war counterculture that reached its apex in the summer of ’68, when the world was on fire.
But since the malaise of the 1970s and the reboot of fiscal conservativism with Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened all over the world. The rich got a *lot* richer, and though the world’s economy grew, and though millions in China were lifted out of poverty, many millions in the “rich” world sank back down to pre-war levels of inequality—levels of inequality to rival France in 1789, when the Reign of Terror brought the guillotine and the massacres.
Something has to give. When it does, the question is: how will we react? Will we shoulder one another’s burdens, grabbing our bags and bugging in to the places were our neighbors need us? Or will we act like the cruel and selfish people the billionaires insist we are, grab our things and bug out, leaving others to sort through the rubble.
I’m betting on the former. That’s why I wrote Walkaway, an optimistic disaster novel about being kind during awful times. Awful times are a given, even in well-run, stable societies—they get smote by war, by disease, by climate and by unimaginable failures of complex systems. The delusions we cherish about our neighbors, about their essential untrustworthiness and downright unworthinessdetermines whether we rush to their aid or run from them.
Walkaway is a story where crisis threatens to tip into dystopia unless we can beat back elite panic and realize our shared destiny. It’s a vaccination against paranoia and mistrust, and a reminder that working together to make a better world is the oldest, most noble dream of our species.
In “The Generation Game“, John Quiggin points out that “In other words, a focus on differences between generations obscures the crucial role of inequality within generations.” He goes on to highlight that the wealthy are largely instrumental in triggering hardships regardless of their generation:
The point here is not that one generation is more or less to blame than another. The people who caused the crisis were mostly born before 1945 because they were of the right age to hold powerful positions in the financial sector in the 1990s. It was their membership of the 1 per cent that matters here.