"Business owners around the country are offering up a lament: 'no one wants to work.' A McDonalds franchise said they had to close because no one wants to work; North Carolina congressman David Rouzer claimed that a too-generous welfare state has turned us all lazy as he circulated photos of a shuttered fast-food restaurant supposedly closed 'due to NO STAFF.'
Most of these complaints seem to be coming from franchised restaurants. Why? Well, it’s not complicated. Service workers didn’t decide one day to stop working — rather huge numbers of them cannot work anymore. Because they’ve died of coronavirus.
A recent study from the University of California–San Francisco looks at increased morbidity rates due to COVID, stratified by profession, from the height of the pandemic last year. They find that food and agricultural workers morbidity rates increased by the widest margins by far, much more so than medical professionals or other occupations generally considered to be on the 'front lines' of the pandemic. Within the food industry, the morbidity rates of line cooks increased by 60 percent, making it the deadliest profession in America under coronavirus pandemic.
Line cooks are especially at risk because of notoriously bad ventilation systems in restaurant kitchens and preparation areas. Anyone who has ever worked a back-of-the-house job knows that it’s hot, smelly, and crowded back there, all of which indicate poor indoor air quality. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency recommended increasing indoor ventilation to fight the virus, but such upgrades are costly and time consuming. There is no data available on how many restaurants chose not to upgrade their ventilation systems, but given how miserly franchise owners are with everything else, one could guess that many, if not most, made no upgrades at all.
Ventilation issues are deadliest for line cooks and other back-of-house jobs, but there are other reasons why food workers’ morbidity rates shot up. Food workers are much more likely to be poor and/or a racial or national minority, and poor people and black and Latino workers are much more likely to die of complications from the coronavirus.
Restaurants are often intentionally short staffed, making it difficult to take time off, so sick workers likely still came to work (and infected others in the process). Bars and restaurants are COVID-19 hotspots, and service workers and customers alike get sick after prolonged restaurant exposure. The difference is that many of those customers have health insurance and other safeguards to prevent them from dying of the illness; 69 percent of restaurants, on the other hand, offer their employees no health benefits at all.
When coronavirus is spread at restaurants, and restaurant workers make little money and rarely earn health benefits, it’s no wonder morbidity rates are so much higher for food service workers. But rather than collectively grieve the deaths of tens of thousands of the people who serve us and keep us fed, and keep such tragedies in mind when considering the state of the food-service industry labor market today, business owners and their political lackeys call these workers 'lazy.'
There are, of course, also living, breathing people who have decided they do not want to risk their lives for $7.25 per hour and no health benefits. That is a perfectly rational decision for the homo economicus to make. Given how dangerous restaurant work is during a viral pandemic, if restaurant owners really wanted more workers, they would offer living wages, health benefits, and adequate personal protective equipment. But all the wage increases in the world won’t bring back the dead.
There aren’t enough people working in the service industry, and service bosses have somehow turned that into our problem, into something we ought to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t fall for it. Profits accumulate because of labor — without workers to exploit, the owning class can’t get richer. Capitalists cannot exploit the labor of the dead, so when large swathes of the working class die, they turn their ire on the living.
This is a barbaric response to mass tragedy. Workers across the country and the globe are dead or grieving. We shouldn’t risk further tragedies for a paltry minimum wage."
- Sandy Barnard, "Service Workers Aren’t Lazy — They Just Don’t Want to Risk Dying for Minimum Wage." Jacobin, 5 May 2021.
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*Syndrome from Incredibles voice*:
“And when everyone’s a capitalist…
no one will be….”
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We Want to LIVE
you know, i think all us leftists, marxists, hippies, socialists, and anarchists should make "we want to live" our slogan. because it applies to most of the things we want.
abolish rent, we want to live!
give us a living wage, we want to live!
free health care for all, we want to live!
abolish landlords, we want to live!
abolish property rights, we want to live!
stop throwing away all that food and start feeding the homeless, we want to live!
give housing to the homeless, we want to live!
defund the police, we want to live!
equal rights for all americans, we want to live!
redistribute the wealth, we want to live!
we should be spraying "we want to live" in giant bold letters using blood red spray paint on the houses of landlords across america. and ceo's, and oil barons, and walmart, and really just, EVERYONE who is actively perpetuating capitalism and letting people die.
because that's what capitalism does, it kills people. when you make it so only a select few can have a stable income, all to perpetuate a system where a tiny minority of people can live in excess, and you let those who fail to make it live on the streets, and starve, and die of sickness, and let police kill innocent people without receiving equal punishment themselves, and make it so everyone who has the money gets to decide our collective fates, you're actively letting people die.
capitalism doesn't care whether you live or die. socialism does.
you tax the rich and give that money to those in need, you take away the need for soul crushing jobs, you GIVE people jobs fixing roads and bridges for good pay, you give housing to people in need- literally ALL of these things would prevent MILLIONS from dying.
our system is broken, we wanna fix it, and the cries of the people should say 4 simple words:
WE WANT TO LIVE
ok, i wanna make this abundantly clear.
i approve of civil disobedience and good trouble, and NOT violent acts, including vandalism. in no way do i believe such acts will further our cause.
when i say good trouble, i mean for example starting a protest without a permit. you get arrested for it, sure, but you end up on the news, and suddenly people are hearing your message, and hopefully no one gets hurt.
I DO NOT CONDONE VIOLENT ACTS.
what i said in my original post came from a moment of passion, and i don't want people to get hurt or arrested because of what i wrote.
so if you're going to try and fight for equality in this country, just be mindful how you do it.
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This is almost funny. America is considering a bailout for airlines, but not for the people who the airlines depend on to fly the airlines. It’s the equivalent of calling a mechanic (instead of a doctor) in response to someone having a heart attack in a car. Bass ackwards.
Imma let them in on a secret: broke people don’t spend money on airline tickets. And a lot of people are about to be pinching their pennies due to an economic slow down. For just once, American politicians need to focus on Main Street, not Wall Street. Everyone else seems to have figured this out. It’s not that hard. #CapitalismKills
Damn. America really is a shithole country.
# A better way is possible.
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"But all those socialist countries have really high tax rates!"
First, they're social democracies. Second, do your research and check out the actual tax rates. Third, check out the quality-of-life statistics.
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Why do people keep talking about forming a socialist political party in the US and running presidential candidates as if that hasn’t been tried nonstop for as long as socialism has existed and isn’t being tried by like 5 different parties literally right now
It. Doesn’t. Work. It’s a waste of time, energy, and money that could be used to actually help people instead of lose elections
Your idea isn’t unique. You’re not better or smarter than them. It will end up the exact same way, so just join a mutual aid group already instead
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"If we start from this understanding of value, [how use-value is created by workers and nature] rather than with a surface appearance of prices, the real character of money loses its mystique. Value — which is just a crystallization of abstract labor — is represented by money... Money is itself a commodity, which by custom and circumstance, has become a universal measure against which all other items on the market are exchanged.
Instead of saying that it takes an equal amount of time to produce a ballpoint pen as a Life Savers candy, we can simply say that they both have a value of ten cents. Thus by being a portable and universal embodiment of value, money simplifies and mediates the process of trading goods.
In Marx's words, 'Money necessarily crystalizes out of the process of exchange.' As markets developed, money became a convenient and necessary substitute for simple barters of commodities based on socially agreed upon labor-times. With money, a producer of bread doesn't have to go to the marketplace with ten loaves of bread in order to buy a chair. At the same time, a chair maker doesn't need to exchange her chair for ten loaves of bread if she only wants one today and another loaf later in the week. Money conveniently stores value over time, which its owner can dispense of as he or she sees fit.
Money also conceals the true nature of value, so that when you go to the supermarket, you don't think you're trading an equivalent amount of your 'congealed mass of labor' with someone else's. As David Harvey explained:
You go into a supermarket and you want to buy a head of lettuce. In order to buy the lettuce, you have to put down a certain sum of money. The material relation between the money and the lettuce express a social relation because the price — the 'how much' — is socially determined, and the price is a monetary representation of value. Hidden within this market exchange of things is a relation between you, the consumer, and the direct producers — those who labored to produce the lettuce.... The end result is that our social relation to the laboring activities of others is disguised in the relationships between things. You cannot, for example, figure out in the supermarket whether the lettuce has been produced by happy laborers, miserable laborers, slave laborers, wage laborers, or some self-employed peasant. The lettuces are mute, as it were, as to how they were produced and who produced them.
The real social relations of production and exchange are therefore hidden behind a veil of what appears to be a relationship between money and commodities. Instead of human relationships, we have economic relationships between goods... The hidden relations of production — wage labor and exploitation — behind this 'fantastic form' [of money] are specific and peculiar characteristics of capitalism. They did not exist in pre-capitalist class societies, which, despite their brutality, lacked the cloak of 'fairness' that capitalism purports. The process of producing commodities, Marx wrote, 'has mastery over man, instead of the opposite.'
This is the essence of what Marx dubbed COMMODITY FETISHISM. What other way can you describe the modern worship of every new generation of Apple products than fetishism? We idolize these things that we consider to be outside and external to us, but in fact are our own creations. By using the term 'fetishism,' Marx was also taking a jab at the philosophers of the Enlightenment, who saw superstition as primitive, and hailed the rationality of capitalism. The thinkers of the Enlightenment promoted science and logic, yet had no problem with a warped reality in which things are powerful and valuable, while human beings relate to each other through the exchange of those things."
- Hadas Thier, from A People's Guide to Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics, 2020.
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Public transportation should be free, green, common, ACCESSIBLE, and free at the point of service.
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“politically incorrect” truth-tellers be like:
*spouts the most orthodox and widely-accepted ideas of neoliberal politics as if they’re somehow revolutionary*
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Republicans literally don’t care if NYC ends up looking like the third world gutters of aged old Calcutta.
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Punks in the 1980s-1990s: "NO goverment! Stop the police state! Stop the war on drugs! No more surveillance!"
Punks now: "We need government control over healthcare, school, rent, and property! Put more funding towards the military and raise taxes! Expand the war on drugs and our prison system!"
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It’s only “Socialism” when it benefits the poor and middle class.
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"Class and wealth surely have everything to do with each other, but they are not the same thing. A stable, well-paid job (to the extent that these still exist) such as a train conductor in New York City may pay upward of $70,000 a year, and a small bodega owner in the Bronx may earn much less. But the former is a worker — who does not control her own hours and conditions of work, and the latter is a small business owner, charged with his own exploitation, as well as that of others (even if few in number).
The numbers on someone's paycheck can't tell you everything. It can't tell you, for instance, that a manager at Starbucks, who makes less than a subway conductor, has the power to fire every worker in the store. We can see then that wealth is just one part of the picture, and one that is more symptomatic of class inequality than explanatory of its origin. In fact, power, control over working conditions, and financial decision-making are the bedrocks of exploitation.
Economics Professor Michael Zweig explained it this way: 'By looking only at income or lifestyle, we see the results of class, but not the origins of class. We see how we are different in our possessions, but not how we are related and connected, and made different, in the process of making what we possess." [emphasis added] The Marxist explanation instead emphasizes that one's position in society is not measured quantitatively, but is determined by a person's relationship to labor, the fruits of labor, and the means of production. Anyone who controls the means of production, has political power, dictates the terms of other's working conditions, or owns capital that can be invested in production, is part of the CAPITALIST CLASS. And anyone who must sell their labor-power for a wage and has no access to the means of production themselves is part of the WORKING CLASS.
This does not just extend to workers engaged in production of physical goods. Teachers and nurses must sell their labor in order to provide services, and thus are part of the working class. As Marx argued: 'If we may take an example from outside the sphere of material production, a school-master is a productive worker when, in addition to belaboring the heads of his pupils, he works himself into the ground to enrich the owner of the school. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of a sausage factory, makes no difference to the relation.'
It is in this sense that Marx and Engels wrote that the 'proletarian is without property.' PROLETARIANS is another word for workers; and private property does not mean personal belongings, like your TV or laptop, but the means of production — the buildings, machinery, software, equipment, tools, and other materials owned by capitalists. Marx wasn't saying that workers literally have nothing, although that is often and increasingly true. He meant that we are without any means to produce and reproduce our livelihoods, and therefore we are at the mercy of capitalist exploitation. A construction company has mechanical shovels, drills, and dozers, which allow them to exploit laborers and turn a profit. I have a shovel, which I can use to grow flowers or tomatoes...
Wealth and poverty do not determine class, rather they are manifestations of it."
- Hadas Thier, from A People's Guide to Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics, 2020.
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As leftists, we’re going to have to look at the starkness of the polical and economic divide in the generations as a serious historic event worthy of more intense study.
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