It shouldn’t surprise anyone that in 2021, some 156 years after the Civil War, Congress managed still to vote down a $15.00 minimum wage. To cite the names of the eight Democrats who voted against it (Manchin, Sinema, King, Carper, Tester, Shaheen, Hassan, and Coons) is a distraction. To point out their net worth (Coons $10 million, King, 9.49 million, Manchin $7.62 million, Carper, $5.73 million, Shaheen, $3.82 million, Tester, $3.67 million, Hassan, $3.47 million, Hassan, $3.47 million, Sinema, N/A) is a distraction. To plead that this is “the richest country in the world” that won’t guarantee universal sick pay and family leave is a distraction, to shame these feckless marauding filibusterers by reminding them that jobless benefits expire in 9 days is a distraction (to delay debate, Johnson forced a speed reading of the 628 page bill, which took 11 hours).
Garcia-Marquez, who said America is the country of forgetting, the country of “dust” because it suffers from amnesia about its history, got it bass ackward. We learned not too long ago that all that Paul Revere stuff we heard in school obscured the essential fact that the U.S. (at that time “the thirteen colonies”) rebelled against Great Britain not because we lusted for freedom (for Just Us but not anyone else), but because Britain was abolitionist, and we… well, we just couldn’t let go the idea of getting people to work for us “free”. We called it slavery (1619 – 1865); after the Civil War was supposed to end that, we had to call it something else. So we created the 13th Amendment, which set the idea in concrete once and for all, and which perpetuated the old system under a new name. It guaranteed that we could go on stealing people’s labor except we had to put them in prison first.
So we put a lot of people in prison and we called it ”convict leasing,” a system wherein if you were a private firm, or a business, or a planter or a corporation, you could “borrow” prisoners at no pay to work for you. This system of involuntary servitude became popular at first because it associated “work” with “punishment.” And everyone knows miscreants need to be punished. Soon “punishment” became “rehabilitation” because it sounded nicer. (Arbeit Macht Frei). The new system of prison labor became known as “state use,” the idea being that prisoners could work for their own upkeep. Have a little extra to send home to the wife and kids, not just a bus ticket and $20 on release. To this day, prisoners work for as little as $1 a day. They make license plates, staff prison kitchens, build furniture for state offices, and sew Victoria’s Secrets underwear. They fight forest fires (extremely hazardous work) but are not allowed to continue that kind of work following release.
The minimum wage has stayed the same ($7.25 an hour) since 2009. Twelve years. Before taxes that comes to $290 a week., or $1,600 a month, or $13,920. a year. There’s slight disconnect here because now (after 12 years) a studio apartment rents for minimum $2,000 a month. So in order to afford rent, food, and a few extras, someone earning minimum wage would have to work 2 jobs. That’s 16 hours a day not counting commutes, and might leave some 5 hours for sleep. Two jobs would yield $27,840 a year before taxes, but would allow you $3,840.00 for food, clothing, and carfare, which comes to $320 a month. The employees of such concerns as Walmart, Amazon, Costco, McDonalds, and many others have to subsist on food stamps; in other words, the U.S. taxpayer subsidizes corporations who hire employees at minimum wage. A good reason never to patronize any of them.
So far, our discussion has included only single individuals; now if someone has the misfortune of having a family (families consist of wives, or husbands, or children, or sometimes all three) how do three people (or more) live on $27,840 a year; or if two people are working two jobs, $55,680.00. Occasionally, there happens to be an unforeseen benefit: one bed can be shared in shifts.
Is this slavery by another name? Or is this only a revisit of post-industrial Industrial Revolution Britain? Does the subject person need to be Black or Brown? or can a person be White or Asian or Native American and still qualify?
So no. These feckless, marauding filibusterers in Congress have not forgotten American history. They are remembering it all too well. Please help vote them out of office. We need a little more amnesia.
WAR NO MORE
An article appeared this week published by Common Dreams which casts a rare light on the events of Jan. 6 (which the MSM seems to have consigned to the dust heap of history). “Living Up Close and Personal With Our Endless Wars” is offered from the perspective of a military wife who happens also to earn her living as a social worker interested in the health impacts of war. She is also co-founder of Brown University’s Cost of War Project.
Among the many points the article raises is the idea that, with the events of Jan. 6, America’s Endless Wars are coming home to roost, and that D.C. has become a war zone, cities like Portland, practice runs. Officially we might refer to Portland as military exercises. (It is critical to keep in mind that Portland police, beneficiaries of the 1033 program, are using expired WWII and Korean war tear gas cannisters so toxic and blinding, demonstrators must avail themelves of gas masks. Subjected to chemical analysis, the likelihood of these substances being carcinogenic is high. Like Scott Olson in Oakland some ten years ago, one Portland demonstrator received a cannister directly in the face. He suffers from the loss of one eye, and his shattered brain pan will have to be completely reconstructed. He still suffers from neurological deficits, notably loss of short-term memory.)
She writes, “We have been amazed at how few Americans, other than our fellow military families, have been preoccupied with the violence beginning to unfold on our nation’s streets and the way, in some strange fashion, America’s distant, never-ending wars of these last 20 years were threatening to come home.”And, to cap her argument she stresses that the unimaginable sums this country’s military machine have siphoned off increasingly massive portions of the domestic budget at the expense of social services ranging from healthcare to domestic job creation, at the same time retiring military grade weaponry from far flung war zones into the homeland hands of police departments across the country.
Whether Democrat or Republican, the presidents of the past 20 years have insured that the violence continuing in war zones world over has now begun to unfold at home, and that as a military wife in contact with many other military wives, she names and shares their unique and very appalling fears—all this at salaries reduced from the national average by 27%.
Urge Biden to end forever wars.
Demand Congress bring the George Floyd Justice to Policing Act to a vote, ending the transfer of battle grade weaponry to municipal police.
End wage slavery now. No one can live on $7.25 an hour which has been the minimum since 2009.
Uphold the $15 an hour minimum wage.
After yet another major earthquake, Ex-Japanese PMs Kan and Koizumi urge Japan to quit nuclear power generation.
Greens seek to halt German uranium exports to Europe.
Aid groups reject charges over Mediterranean refugee rescue missions.
International Criminal Court prosecutor to open formal probe into war crimes in occupied West Bank.
French ex-president Sarkozy faces sentence to 3 years in prison for corruption.
Iran agrees to IAEA talks, Western powers pause censure plans.
Haitians continue to resist dictatorship and imperialist forces.
‘We need to be on war footing’: head of WHO calls for vaccine patent waivers to halt pandemic.
European powers scrap US backed plan for IAEA rebuke of Iran.
India: Farmers mark 100 days of protests.
In a huge win for labor, Biden issues public statement of support for Alabama workers fighting for union.
Fight is not over say rights groups as Biden administration lets separated families remain in U.S.
Word by word, Biden administration is easing #45’s language of racism, xenophobia, and hate.
Supreme Court dismisses so-called sanctuary city cases following Bidden administration request.
Progressives push Biden to end ‘vaccine apartheid.’
Biden administration brokers deal between two corporate competitors to vastly boost vaccine supply.
Biden rolls out array of climate-related orders calling on all agencies to factor climate into their work.
Biden withdraws Neera Tanden’s nomination.
Pressure building on Biden to rejoin Iran nuke deal.
80 House Dems urge Biden to repeal #45’s cruel sanctions on Cuba
Sea. Kaine (D-Va) plans new push on war powers resolution after Biden attacks Syria.
‘We need to make sure it’s done right’: peace advocates welcome Biden move to limit war powers.
Biden open to repealing US laws that enable ‘forever wars’.
Biden orders temporary limits on drone strikes outside war zones.
Senate passes $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, without however approving $15 minimum wage.
Biden says $1,400 payments can start to go out this month.
ACLU to Biden: Do not ‘review’ drone killing program-end it once and for all.
States are moving to end National Guard role in unauthorized wars.
Could be worse department: Biden calls off strike on second military target in Syria last week.
USDA pauses land transfer of Oak Flat including Bildagoteel, site of southwest tribal religious beliefs to mining company.
Protesters block intersection in support of jailed indigenous elder.
Marshall Islanders remember ‘Castel Bravo’ nuclear bomb that destroyed their island, and ruined their health.
Citing harm to tribal lands and wildlife, groups call on Biden administration to remove certain border wall.
150 former aides, surrogates urge Sanders to help secure citizenship pathway for undocumented immigrants.
Bill to expand federal background checks on all gun sales reintroduced in Senate.
House new voting rights bill now curtails gerrymandering right away.
To help fund COVID recovery and redress inequality, Warren unveils wealth tax on ultra billionaires and billionaires.
To ensure justice and accountability for police brutality, Pressley leads Masssachusetts’ progressive lawmakers in new bill to end qualified immunity.
Part of he George Floyd Justice in Policing Act newly introduced in Congress is called the ‘Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.
AOC among N.Y. lawmakers saying Gov. Cuomo cannot hand pick investigator into allegations against him.
California Senator Alex Padilla’s first bill would protect millions of undocumented essential workers.
Sanders attempted to force vote on $15 minimum wage amendment.
Advocates urge permanent closure after parents and kids released from Pennsylvania’s Berks migrant family jail.
New study find about 300 fewer police killing have occurred in most cities where BLM protests occurred.
Evanston, Ill. becomes first city to make reparation amends for black residents.
108 illegal immigrants in Texas who tested positive for COVID reportedly released.
US journalists form union to survive ‘hedge fund vampires’ and COVID 19.
While tens of thousands of New Yorkers have been unable to cover rent due to COVID, tenant organizers protest re-opening of Housing Court.
Rooftop solar forms an alternative to monopoly utility models.
San Francisco, Minneapolis, Portland, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Baltimore and a dozen more cities have reduced police spending in favor of transferring money to the community.