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Category Archives: Abolition Of Work
Posted: May 11, 2020 at 11:19 am
This piece originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Ms.
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Clutching a clear plastic bag of belongings, Lisa Oxendine walks slowly out of the Durham County Detention Facility and into a crowd awaiting her arrival.
Im so glad to meet you, Serena Sebring says, handing her a bouquet of bright flowers. Welcome home.
Sebring is a regional organizer for Southerners On New Ground (SONG) in Durham, N.C. She and about two dozen volunteers are hereto bail women out of the jail as part of the Black Mamas Bail Outa joint campaign that took place across the U.S. ahead of Mothers Day.
Oxendine was the first to emerge over the four-day action in Durham, in which SONG spent $18,900 to free nine women from the jail and convinced judges to remove the bond requirement for two more, allowing them to be released as well.
We wanted to call attention both to the importance and centrality of black women, black mothers and black caregivers to our communities, [as well as] to the particular impact mass incarceration is having on black women, Sebring says.
Her group is part of a swelling national movement to abolish the cash bail system, or at least limit the use of bail to violent casesbecause, as Sebring puts it,the bail system requires legally innocent people to pay a ransom to get out of jail while they await trial. And too many simply cannot afford to pay. Research suggests just a few days in jail pretrial can jeopardize a persons housing, employment and public assistance and raise her likelihood of pleading guilty, being convicted and reoffending.
The cash bail system takes a distinct toll on women awaiting trial. While wives, girlfriends and mothers bear the brunt of bail costs for the men in their lives, women often have little means to buy their own freedom from a system that wasnt designed with them in mind. And the effects of their incarceration radiate outward to their families and communities.
Unable to pay a $1,000 bond, Oxendine spent eight days in jail, accused of breaking into a truck. When a SONG volunteer first came to ask if she wanted to be bailed out, Oxendine thought it was too good to be true.
But they kept coming back to see me, she says.
Taking a break from speaking with SONG about what she needs now that she is out, she said she hoped to visit her sons for Mothers Day.
Across the country, women-led groups like SONG are taking the lead in efforts to reform the bail system. And women policymakers are instigating change including at the federal level. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation that would give grants to states to put alternatives to money bail into place, and require them to collect data on those measures and report back.
Heres the deal: We have gotten to the point where in courtrooms around America, someone is released before their trial based on whether they can afford to write a check or not and not necessarily based on whether they present a risk to their community, Harris, a former prosecutor, told participants at a 2017 conference on womens incarceration. That aint right. Its not fair.
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Many state and local lawmakers agree. In the past year alone, officials in Nebraska, Illinois, Montana, Connecticut, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Atlanta have moved to limit the use of money bail for lower-level offenses, introduce risk assessment tools to try to remove bias from pretrial release decisions, and expand programs for people who are released pretrial. The District of Columbia all but eliminated cash bail except for rare, serious cases in the 1990s, and New Jersey and Alaska more recently followed suit.
Of the nearly 110,000 women in local jails, about 60 percent are awaiting trial and havent been convicted. About 80 percent are mothers, most single moms like Maranda ODonnell, whose arrest in Harris County, Texas, led to one of the most significant legal challenges to the bail system. Her story shows how an arrest can push a person teetering on stability over the edge.
ODonnell was pulled over driving to see her then 4-year-old daughter and didnt have a valid license. Unable to pay bail, she spent two days in jail.
Earlier this year, an appeals court affirmed that the countys bail system violated ODonnells and other plaintiffs rights to due process and equal protection.
Susanne Pringle, interim executive director of the Texas Fair Defense Project, a nonprofit thats part of the lawsuit, says those two days likely cost ODonnell a new waitressing job and jeopardized custody of her child.
[Bail] is not supposed to be a punishment. Its not supposed to be used as a way to detain someone pretrial but when you set bonds that high and for someone who is being arrested for something that is clearly a poverty offense, thats what it isits a detention order, Pringle says.
While men make up 86 percent of the countrys overall jail population, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of incarcerated women has grown 14-fold in the past half century, a rate outpacing men.
As communities are increasingly focusing on reducing jail populations, the number of women continues to grow, so that suggests the reform efforts around the country arent reaching women to the same extent theyre reaching men, says Elizabeth Swavola, senior program associate with the Vera Institute of Justice Center on Sentencing and Corrections.
Like ODonnell, most women in jail arent there on violent charges.
More than three-quarters of women being held pretrial are facing property, drug and public order charges such as prostitutioncrimes often driven by poverty, mental illness and substance use. A third of women in jail have a serious mental illness, twice the percentage of men in jail, and six times the rate for women in the general population. The vast majority86 percent per one studyhave experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes.
Women in U.S. jails report high rates of trauma, mental illness, drug use and medical needs that jailsresource-strapped and designed around menare ill-equipped to handle.
Women are less likely than men to have the money to pay, even when assigned very low bonds. During a bailout SONG held in Durham for Black Mamas Day last year, the group posted bail for a woman who couldnt afford even a $150 bond.
A 2015 Prison Policy Initiative analysis found that white men had a median pre-incarceration income of more than $20,000 per year. That compares to white women, who had a median income of just under $16,000; Hispanic women, who earned about $12,000; and black women, with just over that amount.
Andrea Hudson spent 51 days in the Durham County Detention Facility in 2012, unable to post a $30,000 bail or pay about 10 percent to a bondsman.
She missed an appointment to secure an apartment with Section 8 rental assistance and lost her voucher. Her then 7-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter moved between a friends house and the home of estranged relatives. Because of the chargesincluding fraud and exploiting an elderly personshe lost jobs as a home health care worker and school custodian.
Desperate to be released, she finally agreed to plead guilty to some of the charges in exchange for the rest being dismissed. The dismissed charges were ultimately expunged, but she was jailed again for a subsequent assault she says she didnt commit, and because that charge violated previous probationary terms, bail was set at an even higher amount.
I missed my kids all over again, and once again my son went to school and came home from school and his mothers gone, she recalls.
Her daughter, Josselyn, took 12-hour shifts making light bulbs once she graduated from high school to support herself and her brother and get an apartment. Visits were difficult to arrange and painfully inadequate. They couldnt touch or console each other as they cried, and had to yell through thick glass over the other visitors.
It was hard because there was nothing I could do, says Josselyn, now 23.
In Connecticut, visits between incarcerated mothers and their families are particularly challenging. Here, all womenregardless of conviction statusare held at one facility on the coast.
Beatrice Codianni spent 15 months at the Danbury Federal Prison awaiting trial for her role in the Latin Kings gang. Her three sons struggled to afford rentlet alone gas money to make regular visits. Her youngest, 16 at the time, had to quit school to work.
Mothers Day was the hardest, she recalls.
For those who are lucky enough to get a visit, Codianni says, they beat themselves up. And they shouldnt, because theyre in jail and they dont have to be. Most of them would be home if it wasnt for the bail system.
Codianni now runs Reentry Central, a national website for professionals working in criminal justice and reentry, and serves on the advisory board of the Connecticut Bail Fund. She says women are often stuck in jail on bonds that are so low, the bail agents wont take them because the profits would be too slim.
Youre taking away a crucial piece of a childs life and for reasons that arent really that serious, like drug possession and trespassing, she says.
Hudson, who spent just under two months in the Durham jail, says it took years to put back together what was broken in that time.
She still doesnt have housing of her own. She lives with her daughter, whose name is on the lease because Hudson received an eviction judgment for not paying rent while she was detained.
But her detention revealed her purpose. Instead of becoming a parole officer, as she was studying to do when she was arrested, shes establishing a bail fund at the nonprofit Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and helps defendants and their families advocate for themselves in court.
In Hudsons experience, women tend to be embarrassed by their charges or the circumstances surrounding them. She recalled one woman she met in the Durham jail who had been arrested with her boyfriend when police found drugs in their car. The boyfriend arranged for himself to be bailed out but left her inside.
To Cara Smith, chief policy officer for Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County, Ill., this sounds similar to what she witnesses in Chicagos jail.
What we find with male detainees is that there are lots of people that want to help them, want to raise money, want to bond them outwhether its girlfriends, wives, mothers, et cetera, she says. The women that come into our custody seemingly are without that band of support on the outside.
This is particularly true for women who experienced abuse, trafficking and drug use in relationships prior to their arrest, says Hanke Gratteau, director of the Cook County Sheriffs Justice Institute.
Under Gratteaus leadership, the Justice Institute identifies people unjustly held in the Cook County jail and advocates for their release. According to Smiths research, last year about 1,200 people served enough time pretrial at the Cook County jail that by the time they were transferred to prison, they had not only satisfied their sentences but had served an additional 321 years collectively.
Because women make up just a fraction of the jails population, not many come before the Justice Institute, but often the most compelling end up being the womens cases, Smith says.
That includes a woman now in her 40s jailed for the first time on a warrant for not completing community service in her 20s, and a pregnant woman brought in after missing court and denied bond, guaranteeing she would give birth in jail before her next court date.
In Texas, the number of women in jail is growing, even though arrest rates are declining, according to a two-part report authored by Lindsey Linder, lead attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. She says Texas, like other states, hasnt been intentional about addressing womens incarceration because women comprise the smaller portion of the jail population.
But thats starting to change because of women involved in reform effortsfrom formerly incarcerated women telling their stories; to activists who convinced Austin officials to delay building a new womens jail and spend a year studying alternatives to pretrial incarceration; to the attorney, researcher, designer, sheriff and judges who contributed to the report.
Despite the fact that one in four women (and one in two black women) have an incarcerated family member, womens voices are too often left out of conversations about reform, says Gina Clayton, founder and executive director of the Essie Justice Group. The California-based nonprofit connects and empowers women with incarcerated loved ones to advocate for criminal justice reform. About 30 percent of Essie members have been incarcerated themselves, Clayton says.
When a member of the Essie Justice Group went to the California legislature to speak about the need for bail reform, at least one person questioned why she was speaking and not the men in her life perceived to be more directly impacted by the issue.
Our understanding that mass incarceration impacts male people of color is one that is informed by our own existing biases around what we dont see and what were willing not to see happening to women, and particularly what is happening to black and brown women, Clayton says.
Essie members have lobbied state legislators to restrict the use of money bail in California; a bill passed the state Senate but stalled in the Assembly last year.
Bail is how weve been able to create a conviction machine in this country, and I think thats why bail is a lever for us, Clayton says. Once women are convicted of a felony, their record can disqualify them for jobs, housing or benefits like food stamps.
Lisa Oxendine, bailed out by SONG in May, is caught in the conviction machine. Before she could make that trip to see her boys, she was back in jailthis time under an $11,000 bondfor violating previous probation terms. Last year, SONG freed 14 Durham women in its bailouts. Out of all the tales of homes, jobs and dignity lost to pretrial incarceration, organizer Jade Brooks remembers the story of one woman SONG wrote to asking if she wanted to be bailed out.
She was sleeping with our letter under her pillow, Brooks says. That was, for her, a symbol of freedom.
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Posted: at 11:19 am
" We are all born ignorant" said Benjamin Franklin, "but one must work hard to remain stupid." And no one is working harder at it these days than the mandarins in Bangalore.
There is no other explanation for the sudden order on the 5th of May cancelling the trains which were supposed to take tens of thousands of migrant labour back to their home states as per the new GOI guidelines. (After a massive public outrage the order was withdrawn on May 7) But maybe I'm being too harsh because Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa generally knows which side of his bread is buttered ( it is usually both sides).
It is a remarkable coincidence that the order was issued immediately after his meeting with the builder's lobby- Real Estate Development Association of India. It is self evident that, if the labour left, all construction activity would grind to a halt. Profits would plummet and that would have spin offs for the politics of Karnataka too, for it's money that makes the mare go round, after all. Other states, including Tamil Nadu, appear to be following his lead.
It goes without saying that this is hostage taking, and a clear violation of the Abolition of Bonded Labour Act 1976- the labour is being held against their will, not because of the pandemic, since the GOI (Government of India) has allowed them to be repatriated and other states are sending them back; they are being denied their basic freedom and right to choose because the state wants them to serve the purpose of corporate profits, which is the classic definition of bonded labour.
Or, as Yogendra Yadav put it correctly, modern slavery. No doubt someone, living in hope, will approach the Supreme Court but that too would be a vain hope. The court, in a petition by Harsh Mander, has already laid down a spanking new definition of right to life and dignity- two meals a day, take it or leave it. Man lives by bread alone.
But, really, we should not be surprised: Yediyurappa's order is consistent with the approach of the central government towards the 130 million migrant labour in India, all of whom are representative of rural India, part time kisans, part time labour. Which in turn accurately reflects policy making in India since 1990: focus almost exclusively on urban India and industries, Gandhi's villages and agriculture can take care of themselves.
After all, they do not generate the rupee surpluses needed to grease the wheels of neo liberal capitalism and politics; their function is to deliver the votes every five years on cunningly devised caste algorithms. All the fruits of development have gone to urban India- 400 million people there produce 84% of the country's GDP, the 800 million in Bharat only 16%.
All industries, educational institutions, hospitals, corporate offices are in the towns and cities. To be fair, Congress governments in the past did make some feeble attempts to empower our villages and extend the charter of rights to their populations: the Panchayati Raj Act, Right to Education, Right to Food, MNREGA, Mid day meals, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, stringent environmental regulations. Though much was found lacking in their implementation, at least the intention showed some realisation of the desperate plight of rural India. But the present government, in its pathological quest for "ease of business" and brownie points at Davos, has turned the clock back.
Enforced digitalisation has deprived millions of their dues, welfare schemes are grossly under funded, retrograde agriculture policies, failure to reform APMCs and obsession to keep food prices low have ensured that while urban India prospers the rural sector remains more or less exploited, with 12000 farmers committing suicide every year.
While India grew at 7% ( before the pandemic) agriculture grew at an average of about 2.5% only. We will spend Rs. 100,000 crores to build Smart Cities but will do nothing to upgrade our villages, other than providing a few toilets which don't work because there is no water, and LPG cylinders which 80 % of the village households cannot afford. We will increase prices of petrol and diesel, liquor and cars, charge all kinds of cesses and tolls,but keep a tight rein on agricultural produce because inflation has to be kept under check. On every front the rural sector has been short changed.
For decades now we have been exploiting the natural resources of the villages to fatten industries and cities: appropriating their rivers, chopping down their forests, acquiring their lands, displacing 50 million people since 1947. Environmental protection laws have been diluted to make these depredations easier.
The PESA ( Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996) which was meant to give self governance to, and empower, Gram Sabhas remains more or less on paper because both the central and state govts are unwilling to give village units the power to decide on projects coming up in their areas. The 130 million migrant labour is the cumulative result of these distorted policies. But at least these economic refugees had jobs in cities, SMEs, construction projects to support their families back home- till 2016.
Two monumental surgical strikes took care of that: demonetisation and GST. And now the military style implementation of the lock down. But this time India's pampered, gated- colony middle classes too made common cause with a callous government to expel the migrants from their cities.
Those who had literally built a modern India with their own hands were now treated like pariahs, like the Typhoid Mary- reviled, beaten up by police, branded as carriers of the virus, hosed down with disinfectants like cattle, confined in unhygienic camps, denied the means to travel back to their villages.
Our rulers and elite would have done well to have listened to Bob Dylan- " when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose." And those who had lost everything- except their dignity, a concept alien to a capitalist society and a callous government- started WALKING back.
In small groups first, then in droves, then in their lakhs, back to an uncertain future but a milieu that at least cared, proving wrong an increasingly disconnected Supreme Court that equates the right to life to a loaf of bread. How many have died/ will die on this journey will never be told to us.
But, with economic activity now set to resume, the tables have now turned, the tube light in the PMO has started flickering- how will industry return to normal without these wretches?
The largest number of migrant labour used to be employed in the five most industrialised states- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu. How will the kulaks of Punjab and the orchardists of Himachal harvest their crops without labour?
How will the real estate sector in Gurgaon, Noida and Bangalore now build its over priced buildings?
How will our cities run without maids, drivers, rehri-wallahs, security guards, delivery boys?
In short, how do you sustain this capitalist bubble without the millions you have just thrown out?
It is this late realisation which had prompted Yediyurappa, and other opportunists of his ilk, to cancel the trains and create other impediments to their return. The boot is now on the other foot however, and this boot is headed away from our cities and their industrial heartlands.
Neo liberal India is now desperate for them to come back, but continues to repeat its mistakes, focusing on the importance of capital rather than on the welfare of labour. Beginning with Uttar Pradesh, where most undesirable things originate, states have now started suspending laws made by previous governments to ensure the welfare and non-exploitation of labour.
But the migrants are not coming back, at least not for the next six months or a year, deferring indefinitely our promised tryst with a five trillion dollar economy. The battle is truly on between Bharat and India, but, for the first time since independence, the terms of trade are in favour of the former.
The latest employment figures for April released by CMIE bear this out in no uncertain terms. It states that since February 114 million have lost their jobs, one of every four Indians. Every sector has been bleeding jobs- SMEs, entrepreneurs, salaried class. But there has been an increase of 5.8 million jobs in the agricultural sector ! Even the Niti Ayog should be able to grasp the significance of this.
In a contrarian way, it appears to me that COVID and the forced exodus of the migrants may just be the best thing to have happened to our rural India, if only our policy makers would read the writing on the wall. As the well known economist Ila Patnaik recently said in an interview, businesses will now relocate and go where it is safer- our metros are no longer safe, they are hot spots of contagion and will remain so for some years; their abundant labour force is no longer available.
Our villages are safer, have the natural resources needed for industry, and 430 million workers( 2011 census) who now want jobs closer to home. It's a no-brainer for industry, even if its incomprehensible to the govt.
But there are signs that things may be changing- Punjab and Madhya Pradesh have started allowing private mandis in rural areas and small towns. If the mandis come then so will the infrastructure- food processing units, warehouses, cold storages, transport companies, Big Basket and Grofers.
If our villages finally become the units for planning and development, this would be a more environmentally sustainable and socially equitable model than the avaricious one we have today.
Then the migrants of today would finally occupy their rightful place in the scheme of things. And nobody would have to to die on railway tracks in the middle of the night in their quest for a little humanity and dignity- and a piece of bread:
The remnants of a dream on the rail tracks of Aurangabad
The family which was carrying the sorry chapati above was not the migrant, actually. As Ravish Kumar put it so expressively, we, who also came from these villages just a couple of generations ago, are the real migrants, stuck in our heartless gated colonies in decaying cities, our roots severed. The real Bharat has gone back to its home- and perhaps a better life- in the villages. One wishes them well.
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Posted: at 11:19 am
In his famous essay The Hedgehog and the Fox, the British philosopher, Isiah Berlin, observed that unlike foxes in Greek lore which know many things, the hedgehogs know only one big thing, since they relate everything to a single central vision, one system, less or more coherent or articulate, in terms of which they understand, think and feel...
The French economist, Thomas Piketty, is clearly the hedgehog of Berlins essay, having made the study of inequality the centrality of his professional life. In so doing, he has locked onto the flavour of the decade worldwide and for good reason. It has been identified as the principal economic issue of our time.
Inequality today stands at unprecedented levels. A 2012 survey by The Economist noted that the numbers of the ultra-wealthy have soared around the globe, and that the world is witnessing a dramatic concentration of incomes over the past 30 years, on a scale that matches, or even exceeds, the first Gilded Age with the share of national income going to the richest 1 per cent of Americans, doubling since 1980, from 10 per cent to 20 per cent.
Gabriel Zucman from the University of California, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, , has computed that at least $7.6 trillion has been stashed away by the worlds richest in offshore accounts. That is the kind of transformational money more that what America has expended in all its wars since 1950 that could have created a better and fairer world. It is the injustice of such inequality and its debilitating impact on the less fortunate in society that engages Piketty. His 2013-14 best-seller Capital in the 21st Century, which focussed on inequality, now has a weightier and longer sequel in Capital and Ideology. It is dauntingly massive, comprising 17 chapters, nearly 1,100 pages and is chock-full with graphs and tables. Is this overkill? Hardly, for not even such a voluminous study is enough to cover so vast a topic.
Pikettys book is in parts a compelling read. It melds history with economics and literature, even pulling in Jane Austen and Balzac, to better illustrate the social and economic inequalities of a time and an age. Piketty classifies his book as the history and evolution of inequality regimes. Through it he seeks to establish that Inequality is neither economic nor technological; it is ideological and political, with rich and powerful minorities invariably laying the rules of coexistence for everyone to follow. He covers a lot of ground.
In the four parts the book is partitioned, Piketty gives us a detailed account of the evolution of inequality through history, from slave and colonial societies to ternary systems (pre-French Revolution social hierarchy) in which clerical and religious classes combined with nobles and warriors to constitute powerful special interest groups everywhere.
The shift from ternary to ownership societies Karl Polanyis Great Transformation saw new elites owning much of a countrys wealth and property, which even the French Revolution standing for liberty equality and fraternity, could neither abolish nor circumscribe. Pikettys contention that historically the rules of engagement in society have always been loaded against the small man is spot on. It is common knowledge that it is the hard-working grossly under-compensated masses who suffer the consequences of inequalities of wealth.
However, to Piketty this condition is not so hopeless as to necessitate a Marxian revolution. Peaceful transitions are possible as in the case of Sweden which went from being one of the most unequal regimes in Europe in the early 20th century to emerge as one of the most egalitarian later. Other European nations too achieved similar transformations, not the least aided by huge transfers of wealth from their colonies as in the case of England, France as well as Belgium, the Netherlands and Japan.
Pikettys preferred means of reducing inequality is through taxing the rich heavily. The US is a case in point. It cut its robber barons to size in early 20th century, boosted public spending on education and laid the foundations of a great state that continues to dominate the world. More recently, between 1950 and 1980, the rich were again taxed heavily yet it was also a period of high growth for America. In Capital and Ideology, Piketty attempts to recast himself as the global authority on inequality, up from being merely a western-centric one. He does not wholly succeed in this. He gives us a passable but never profound account of the depredations Western nations wrought on India, China, and other parts of the world they colonised and pillaged. Piketty comes close to, but stops short of, demanding that France and England amongst others, pay up for having devastated and traumatised whole continents.
In his book, Piketty brings out something not commonly known, that there was nothing altruistic about the abolition of slavery considering how generously western slave owners were compensated for giving up their slaves. Pikettys shocking account of how France forced Haiti to compensate it financially over decades for the freedom it achieved through reparations, right up to 1950 constitute some of the most engaging portions of Capital and Ideology.
Piketty dwells on India at length in his book, sadly superficially. His take on caste and inequality (blame it all on the British) borders on tripe. On the positive side, unlike his other western colleagues, Piketty generously acknowledges that there is much for the European Union to learn on state building from Indias integration experience.
Piketty is also clearly impressed by how India has sought to mitigate inequalities by bringing to the fore its historically disadvantaged communities through affirmative action programmes which were the biggest in scale and intent in human history. Unlike most of his Western counterparts, Indias political process impresses Piketty. His admiration for the countrys democracy especially universal adult franchise is not the least bit condescending.
While the book has been gushingly received in the West, some well-known economists have not missed its serious shortcomings. Raghuram Rajan observed in his Financial Times review that Piketty while calling for greater democratic participation actually pushes for grand elite-devised centralised schemes that suggest a tin ear to the protest movements that have roiled the world.
Most of those who would have read his last chapter Elements for a Participatory Socialism for the Twenty-First Century will agree. It is not enough for Piketty to say, Tax the rich to the bone and pare down inheritances. He needs to come up with something practical to make that work.
Paul Krugman, one of Pikettys admirers, is sadly disappointed by Capital and Ideology. Reviewing the book in The New York Times, he wryly observes: There are interesting ideas and analyses scattered through the book, but they get lost in the sheer volume of dubiously related material. In the end, Im not even sure what the books message is.
Capital and Ideology is indeed a bit of a waffle. It lacks the succinct brilliance of similar works by the likes of John Kenneth Galbraith and Amartya Sen. With the kind of data he has amassed one would have expected Piketty to have done a lot better. Disappointingly he does not.
The reviewer, a former civil servant and visiting fellow at NIAS, CEU and CCS-IISc, teaches at IISc Bengaluru.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 11:19 am
May 10, 2020 The third phase of relaxed measures brings the greatest normalization of life to date, according to Jutarnji List. Starting Monday morning, citizens can go to their favorite cafe, order coffee and leaf through the newspaper. Or go to a restaurant for lunch, and some children will return to school.
Shopping malls will reopen and inter-county transportation and domestic flights will resume. National parks will open for excursionists, and groups can increase from five to ten people.
Besides these already-announced concessions, driving schools can start working. Quarantine and self-isolation for international transport drivers will also cease.
Also, after May 11, it is possible that there will be a complete abolition of e-passes, allowing Croats to roam the country unabated.
Croatian officials decided catering businesses such as restaurants and cafes can use indoor spaces under certain conditions. Previous rules locked out businesses without terraces or limited space.
Also, working hours can go until 11 p.m., two hours more than originally planned. But the extra time will go as much towards meeting new hygiene standards as it will to serving guests. The rules sound nearly militaristic.
All tables must be empty by the time guests arrive. Utensils arrive after guests sit. Presumably, theyll already know their orders. The menus should stand out prominently at the entrance or other visible place in an appropriately plasticized cover.
Croatias Civil Protection Directorate suggests guests enter only after when a previous group leaves the premises. The physical distance between individual groups of visitors must be at least one-and-a-half meters.
Social distancing rules will limit the number of visitors and leave vast chunks of unused space. The tables should sit one-and-a-half meters apart. Larger groups of guests can sit together at tables, and the distance between them and other groups must be at least one-and-a-half meters.
Visitors can also order a meal or drink in the restaurant to-go. When ordering, the physical distance of at least one-and-a-half meters between customers waiting in line still applies.
It is also possible to serve standing guests if they keep a physical distance.
After the departure of each group of guests, the table, chairs, and other surfaces that the guests touched must be wiped with disinfectant. Snacks cannot sit in communal bowls, nor can salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, and other spices stay on the tables.
As for employees, they must adhere to all measures, hand-washing, and disinfection rules. They must notify the employer of any signs of illness or fever and not come to work.
As for schools, lower grades start on Monday, and kindergartens are opening as well. The distance between the children should be two meters. There should be up to nine children in a class and one educator or teacher, or some other configuration limited to ten people.
Here is a full list of new, loosened restrictions:
Cafes and Restaurants
Can work from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Not limited to terrace-only businesses
Tables must be 1.5 meters apart
No limit to the number of people who can sit at one table
Sitting at the bar is prohibited
The waiter should disinfect his hands before serving each new table
Authorities recommend air conditioners remain off
After the departure of each group of guests, the tables should be disinfected, and the tablecloths changed
No snacks on the tables
Salt and pepper containers must not be on the table, but new, disinfected ones are brought for each group of guests
Employees must take their temperature every morning before coming to work
It is recommended that employees wear protective masks and gloves
Schools and Kindergartens
Classes start for students from 1st to 4th grade
A limit of 9 students in a class
Parents who can still keep their kids home should do so
Employees must maintain a distance of 2 meters from each other and try to do the same in relation to children
In the class and kindergarten group, the maximum number of persons can be 10 (nine students and a teacher, eight children and two educators, etc. ...)
After the formation of the group, no new children are admitted to the groups/classes for the next 14 days
As much time as possible is spent outdoors
Parents hand over their children in front of the kindergarten building and do not enter the facility
Classes for children begin at different times to meet as little as possible
Recess is also staggered to avoid overlap between classes
Children have lunch in the classroom, food is delivered to them at the classroom door and the teacher shares it
Teachers should have their temperature measured when arriving at work and keep special records
Children should not wear masks
Maximum 15 customers for every 100 square meters
The distance between customers should be strictly observed
15 customers can enter the store for every 100 square meters of net area
If it is difficult to determine the total area, the maximum number of customers allowed in the store is obtained by dividing the total area by 10
In textile shops, it is recommended to sell without trying on clothes, especially those worn over the head
If the clothing is tried on, it must be quarantined for five days before it can be put back on sale
The number of baskets in the store must be equal to the maximum number of customers allowed
Staff must wear protective masks
Customers are advised to wear a mask
Disinfectants must be placed at the entrances to the center and each store, the use of which is mandatory
Employees must measure their temperature before coming to work
Inter-county public transport
Plexiglas should be placed between the driver and the passenger or the first row of seats should be left empty
One person should sit in a row in buses, in such a way that they sit alternately on the left and right seats
In trains that have seats in rows as a bus, one person should sit in a row in such a way that they sit alternately on the left and right seats.
It is recommended that passengers wear masks
The conductor must wear a mask and gloves
The driver is recommended to wear a mask
Hygiene of the driver's cab should be maintained
Vehicles should be regularly ventilated and surfaces that are frequently touched should be disinfected
Drivers must disinfect their hands after placing their luggage in the luggage compartment
Contactless payment should be encouraged
Mandatory distance between visitors
Adapt the park program to the new conditions (abolish panoramic rides during which it is not possible to ensure a distance, etc.)
First aid courses without artificial respiration
Provide disinfectant in the car
It is recommended that both the candidate and the instructor wear masks
There should be a 15-minute break between classes and the driver's and front passenger's areas should be disinfected
Hold theoretical classes with strict adherence to the physical distance of 1.5 meters between students
Keep records of the presence of participants
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Posted: at 11:19 am
Today, Piketty proposes, we live in a neo-proprietarian inequality regime, which takes the logic of the inviolable right to property and extends it to wealth and income (which was, by the way, Carnegies argument in 1889). The extraordinarily high incomes of tech executives, corporate lawyers, and unicorn entrepreneurs, their defenders argue, are theirs to keep, because they are earned in a dispassionate meritocratic system, largely emanating from our countrys higher-education institutions. Of course, we know now the dispassionate meritocracy is a lie; its a system that allows people with a head start to stay ahead. The ruling class is defined and legitimized by educational credentials; our last five presidents have all had Ivy League degrees, a fact that shows only a weak correlation between education and competence. The meritocracy, in fact, is quite similar to the purportedly dispassionate system of contracts and rational government that legitimized the concentrated wealth in France and the United States after their revolutions.
Pikettys solution is that we move beyond private ownership to some blend of private, public, and temporary ownership. (Total abolition of private property, la Soviet Union, for Piketty, was an ill-advised failure.) Since many societal goods are often already owned publicly, like electrical grids, highways, or parks, and some are owned communally, like worker cooperatives, it is easy to imagine this realm expanding. Temporary ownership is different, and would require permanently high levels of taxation (perhaps written into a countrys constitution) to ensure that any number of temporarily private goods return to the community on a regular basis. Homes, wealth, real estate, patents, and financial assets like stocks and bonds would all benefit the community if they were owned only temporarily.
A steep wealth tax could also pay for a onetime capital grant that everyone would receive in their twenties, at 60 percent of the national average wealth (something like $120,000 if the average wealth is $200,000). Piketty also believes that a singular faith in the power of central government to bring big business under control, whether through nationalization or regulation, is mistaken. The reliance on state ownership of major industrieslike that in France and Britain up to the 1980sleads to a neglect of taxes on private enterprise. Taxes, Piketty stresses, are some of the only tools that can perpetually protect the society against developing unconscionable inequalities of wealth and incomes.
The weakest parts ofCapital and Ideologyrail against identity politics, which Piketty believes have stymied the project of egalitarian reform, by splintering the larger coalition that is required to make egalitarian change. Yet with both sides of the political divide practicing some form of identity politicsoften along the lines of race, gender, or religionits not convincing to dismiss this trend in politics out of hand. In the United States, history has proved how difficult it is to redistribute wealth and property when confronted by sexism, xenophobia, and extreme racism, along with the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow. Which should we resolve first? Redistribution through reparations for slavery? Land grants to Native Americans whose lands were stolen? Or what about unpaid wages for care work? Piketty has little to say about the order in which we approach these problems, crucial for a country struggling to come to terms with its past.
Posted: at 11:19 am
Nursing and midwifery students must be recognised for the significant contribution they have made and the disruption they have faced during the coronavirus pandemic, according to unions who are calling for the abolition of tuition fees and reimbursement of those already paid.
The move comes as the Nursing and Midwifery Council said over 25,000 students from across the UK had chosen to join NHS frontline staff via extended clinical placements, in the response to the Covid 19 crisis.
We ask that you acknowledge their selfless service
The Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, Unison and National Union of Students (NUS) have today written to health and social care secretary Matt Hancock urging him to acknowledge students selfless service, not only with words, but in a tangible and quantifiable way.
Their aim is to see the government wipe tuition fees for healthcare students in England and reimburse those already paid.
Student nurses in England formerly did not have to pay tuition fees because these were covered by the government through the bursary. Butthis offer was cut by the government for all nursing students starting after 1 August 2017.
While the government has recently pledged to introduce new yearly maintenance grants to cover living costs, starting from September 2020, students will still be paying around 9,000 a year for tuition.
Related news on student funding
The unions said the coronavirus pandemic meant now was the time for minister to recognise the contribution of students by dropping the debt, abolishing tuition fees and building a workforce fit for the present, and the future.
Under emergency plans put in place by the NMC and its partners, all student nurses apart from first years are able to take up paid clinical placements to support frontline colleagues during the pandemic.
Third-year students in the last six months of their course are also able to extend their final three-month placement into a six-month placement and still get the chance to qualify at the end of it. The NMC may also introduce a temporary register for students, but this has not happened yet.
The letter (see PDFattached below)from the unions called on the health secretary to reimburse tuition fees or forgive current debt for all current nursing, midwifery, and allied healthcare students and abolish student-funded tuition fees those starting in 2020-21 and beyond.
In addition, the unions have asked the government to introduce universal living maintenance grants that reflect actual student need.
Now is the time for the government to recognise the ongoing contribution of student nurses
Dame Donna Kinnair
The unions also reminded Mr Hancock ofthe concerns they raised when the policy of tuition fees was first suggested and how those concerns, including a shortfall in nurses and financial hardship for students, have been borne out.
But they said the current crisis and its impact on students who had either joined the workforce, or were continuing with their education, placed the unfairness of tuition fees for students in England into even starker focus.
Thousands of healthcare students have joined the NHS and social care frontline since this pandemic began, eager to support their qualified colleagues, it said.
The letter added: We ask that you acknowledge their selfless service, not only with words, but in a tangible and quantifiable way.
Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, highlighted how there had been a 31% reduction in university applications for nursing courses since 2016 when the bursary was axed.
Dame Donna Kinnair
She said this was a major reason why the nursing workforce in England entered the Covid-19 crisis with almost 40,000 unfilled posts and with one arm effectively tied behind its back.
Many student nurses have elected to become an invaluable part of the workforce at a time when the country needs them most, but they are still paying tuition fees, and this is simply not right, added Dame Donna.
Now is the time for the government to recognise the ongoing contribution of student nurses by dropping the debt, abolishing tuition fees and building a workforce fit for the present, and the future.
These views were echoed by Gill Walton, chief executive and general secretary of the RCM, who said: Our students make an invaluable contribution to the health of our country, both during and after their training.
Never has that been more apparent than during this current crisis, not only with those formally entering the workforce but many others volunteering in health and care settings.
The policy of tuition fees for those in studying for healthcare degrees is, and always has been, a flawed one, as it does not take into account the considerable time spent on clinical placements, said Ms Walton. Now is the time to put right this wrong.
The government can show the depth of its gratitude by writing off their student fees
In addition, general secretary of Unison, Dave Prentis, praised healthcare students who had stepped up to the plat to help the NHS through the current crisis.
Having racked up thousands of pounds of debt while learning the skills we so desperately need, many are now working alongside their more senior colleagues, said Mr Prentis.
The government can show the depth of its gratitude by writing off their student fees. When the pandemic has passed, it must scrap them for all healthcare students in future and introduce proper maintenance support.
Meanwhile, NUS vice-president welfare Eva Crossan Jory said the contribution of healthcare students had for too long not been adequately recognised.
The very cohorts of healthcare students currently experiencing unparalleled disruption to their education and volunteering to work on the frontline against coronavirus are those who were also forced by the government to pay tuition fees and study without an NHS bursary, she said.
We urge the government to commit to a radical new financial settlement for these students and all those to come.
A government spokesperson said: "We are grateful to all students who choose to support out NHS during this extremely difficult time and will be ensuring all students who do opt-in are rewarded fairly for their hard work."
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Posted: at 11:19 am
Republicans are on the wrong side of historyand everything elseand conservatism is a dead end.
So-called conservatives are actually regressives and reactionaries, pushing us down to a worse state of being. Republicans are conserving little beyond their own wealth, racism, sexism, and homophobia, while eroding American democracy, health, and the environment. Progressives, in contrast, have brought us forward to a better world and continue to do so. Progressive ideology and action is what makes America as great, civilized, and advanced as it is, despite its continuing shortcomings, which progressives seek to repair.
Progressive ideology and action is what makes America as great, civilized, and advanced as it is, despite its continuing shortcomings, which progressives seek to repair.Progressivism has brought us independence from England, slave abolitionism, racial desegregation, womens suffrage, minimum wages and maximum hours, Social Security and Medicare, civil rights and civil liberties, clean air and clean water laws, pure food laws, public education, public libraries, public parks, public transportation, public health, public housing, pay equity, net neutrality, consumer, worker, health, and environmental protections, womens rights, human rights, welfare, food programs, unemployment insurance, birth control and abortion rights, unions, paid vacation and sick leave, separation of church and state, anti-discrimination laws, racial and sexual marriage equality, a reduction in poverty, gun reform and protections, protections against corporate monopolies, medical and recreational marijuana, freedom of expression, the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, and most of the rest of the public sphere that civilizes and enhances our society. Conservatives have opposed all these and other vital achievements throughout our history.
And when the U.S. finally achieves universal single-payer health care (expanded Medicare For All or Berniecare); a Green New Deal; tuition-free public education from daycare through university and graduate school; an Equal Rights Amendment for women and sexual minorities; a living minimum wage; money out of politics; higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations; tough regulations on the financial sector; a Wall Street sales tax; Universal Basic Income; the end of homelessness; the end of child marriages; full reproductive freedom; a carbon price; a wealth tax; a society based on renewable energies; meaningful gun reform; expanded animal welfare and a stronger Endangered Species Act; an end to private prisons, money bail, and mass incarceration; universal suffrage including for inmates; abolition of capital punishment; marijuana legalization; paid parental and sick leave; doctor-assisted suicide; a national high-speed rail system; free public transit; Post Office banking; a smart electrical grid; free nationwide wi-fi; automatic voter registration and better election protection; and so on, it will be because of the hard work of progressives over the objections of conservatives.
In stark contrast, conservatives supported British colonialism in opposition to American independence; supported slavery and racial segregation; supported discrimination against religious minorities and atheists; opposed womens right to vote, equal pay, and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA); opposed protections against racial and sexual harassment and discrimination; oppose contraception, abortion, and reproductive freedom; support child labor; opposed the National Park System; opposed seat belts and airbags in cars as well as higher fuel efficiency standards; blocked marriage equality and block full LGBT+ rights; block expansion and extension of healthcare; blocked civil rights; block full voter access while supporting voter suppression; block higher minimum wages; blocked desegregation of the military based on race, sex, and sexuality; opposed interracial marriage; opposed same-sex marriage; opposed Social Security and Medicare; opposed expanding the voting franchise to women, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, the poor, and 18-year-olds; opposed reducing work to the 8-hour day and the 40-hour work week; oppose labor unions; oppose job security; opposed family leave laws, sick leave, and paid vacations; oppose anti-trust laws and consumer protections; oppose regulations to rein in Wall Street; oppose unemployment insurance and workers compensation; blocked health, worker, consumer, and safety laws; opposed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); oppose DACA (Obamas Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and block comprehensive immigration reform; do not welcome or protect refugees; oppose net neutrality; undermine health and safety measures for workers, consumers, and students; oppose any meaningful gun reforms and the banning of assault weapons; block environmental protections; oppose the Endangered Species Act; oppose more national parks and monuments; oppose tackling the climate crisis; support private prisons and mass incarceration; support privatization and corporate deregulation; support tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations; and so on.
Conservatives blocked the great artist Pablo Picasso from entering the U.S. and tried to do likewise with the great scientist Albert Einstein, who was escaping Nazis during the Holocaust. Similarly, conservatives were against Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Helen Keller, Saul Alinsky, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Ralph Nader, Harvey Milk, Lois Gibbs, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and many other progressive American heroes who nonviolently struggled for a better and fairer America. A conservative is one who admires radicals, Leo Rosten once remarked, centuries after theyre dead. Republicans selfishly only want what they think is best for themselves (focusing on the greed of me), while progressives want what they know is best for society (focusing on the need of we).
Our most populous and richest state of Californiathe 5th largest economy in the world!has no Republicans in any statewide office and Democrats dominate its Legislature. California erased its budget deficit and had a healthy budget surplus of several billion dollars for 2019 and a rainy day fund of $20 billion, some of which will likely be deployed during this pandemic-induced recession, even as California fosters innovation and creativity, has the most start-up businesses of any state, grows richer, and was creating more jobs. California also taxes the rich; raises the minimum wage; expands social services; makes community colleges free to all; advances womens rights; protects womens right to choose and reproductive freedom; reduces maternal mortality; expands protections for the LGBT+ community; celebrates diversity; protects immigrants and refugees; feeds more children at school; increases solar power; fights climate change; raises fuel efficiency standards; reduces air pollution; reforms the criminal justice system; enacts gun control measures; expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for poor Californians; legalized medical and then recreational marijuana; put a moratorium on the death penalty; supports privacy in its Constitution; institutes net neutrality; provides healthcare to more residents; increases protections for animals; extends rights; increases election security; begins public banking; and actively resists regressive Trumpism.
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There has been substantially more job creation and economic growthas well as social, racial, sexual, religious, and economic equityunder Democratic administrations.
In contrast, Mississippi and Alabama are the most thoroughly conservative states by most metrics. For some mysterious reason according to Jacob Hoss, theyre also the poorest, least educated, fattest, and have the lowest life expectancies. Similarly with Kentucky and West Virginia. The ten poorest counties (and more than 90 of the poorest 100 counties), as well as the ten counties with the highest rate of poverty, are in Republican-led states, while nine out of the ten poorest states in America are Republican-led red states. The top ten states with the highest obesity rate are also Republican-led states, even as they oppose expanded healthcare. Its as if Republicans dont want to make peoples lives better. Democrat Bill Clinton is the only president since 1970 to report a budget surplus, instead of a deficit, and did so for four years.
There has been substantially more job creation and economic growthas well as social, racial, sexual, religious, and economic equityunder Democratic administrations. Recessions tend to occur under Republican leadership, then get cleaned up under Democratic leadership. Republicans are socially, politically, and fiscally irresponsible with deadly consequences, while their party continues to get older, whiter, more male, and more Christian, yet less compassionate. Faux News and the greedy GOP wouldnt tell you these things, but its the truth.
Its not that Democrats are always good or that California has solved all its problemsof course, thats not nearly the case, especially with corporate Democratsbut Republicans are always destructive and regressive, both aggressively anti-people and anti-planet, if not individually, then certainly as a party. Even the most moderate and seemingly-reasonable Republican in Congress is giving the GOP its majority, protecting Trump despite his treason and conflicts of interest, and supporting nearly all of Trumps destructive policies and abominable nominations, while eviscerating our democracy, increasing inequality, weakening our alliances, violating domestic and international law, eroding civil rights and liberties, and degrading our health and environment. It is for these kinds of reasons that Noam Chomsky has called the Republican Party the most dangerous organization in world history.
Of course we need to conserve enough of what is societally going on to maintain cultural continuity, yet we need to continually include, innovate, invent, democratize, and change for positive progress. Republicans have outlived their usefulnessindeed, are complicit in undermining democracyand are obsolete. Republicans are on the wrong side of history and conservatism is a dead end. Progressivism is for the people and the planet!
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Posted: at 11:19 am
On February 24, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. On Wednesday, March 11, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison. On Thursday, March 19, California issued a stay at home order, the first statewide measure in the United States, and New York followed suit on March 20. On Sunday, March 22, Weinstein tested positive for the coronavirus.
The impact of the Weinstein verdict is not as simple as a win for the #MeToo movement. His sentencing, by a jury that included six men, isgood newsfor women who hope to be successful in court and thus may encourage women to come forward and bring charges against their assailants. But the conviction does not change theculturein which women live, especially women of color and working-class women. These women still live in a world where sexual assault is common, and resources to bring charges are scarce.
This victory for the #MeToo movement will not have the same impact on women and feminism now that the coronavirus crisis has all out attention. Shelter-in-place orders, which are clearly necessary during this crisis, have several unintended effects that will impact #MeToo and other social movements.
First on a long list of these unintended consequences is the fact that women (and children) are forced to stay at home with their abusers.Domestic abuseis on the increase across the world during the lockdowns. The UN hasaskedgovernments to take this into account in the ways they address this pandemic.
Second, feminism, womens advances in work and pay, as well as hard-won cultural changes of the past 50 years in the US and abroad,will take a hit. In families with two working parents and children, telework will most often result in women having a triple or at times a quadruple burden: paid work, unpaid housework, childcare (which will now include home-schooling for some) and, at times, elderly care. There will be places where men help or take up an equal share of this burden, but more often than not this will fall on women. In single-mom households, of which many women are low-wage workers who unlikely to telework or who have lost their jobs due to layoffs, survival, not feminism, will be the priority.
Then there is the fact that no one is paying attention to the Weinstein verdict during the coronavirus crisis. This is partly due to so many other pressing concerns and partly to the primacy of the story in the news. This reduces its potential to fuel the movement. To compound the problem, no one can protest or march, or even go to court in some places during a lockdown. Many legal practices have been suspended.
Finally, a recession is imminent. This will mean that fewer people have money to give to organizing efforts and nonprofits will have to lay off staff. Many nonprofits are alreadyfeeling the impact.
How will all of this impact the future of the #MeToo movement? While we cannot answer this question, we can look for clues in past crises that led feminist movements to refocus their efforts, and the #MeToo movement can look for guidance and hope in their strategies. Of particular relevance is the womens suffrage movement. During its lifetime, it survived three major crises the American Civil War, World War I and the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 as well as economic recessions, including the panics of 1857 and 1873. What can the current #MeToo movement learn from their reaction to these crises?
First of all, it needs to focus attention on the crisis because the crisis requires it and deserves it. During the Civil War, the womens rights movement directed its energy toward assisting with thewar effort. This was a strategic choice as well as a practical one there was really no other choice. The crisis required all hands on deck and did not allow for other issues to take primacy.
The #MeToo movement needs all its organizational strength to assist with the crisis, thereby maintaining member involvement and positive relations with political allies, the press and kindred movements. During the Civil War, the womens rights movement worked with or created groups dedicated to abolition. The womens movement viewed the two issues as related and hoped that after slavery was ended, their allies would assist them in gaining the vote and other womens rights.
The focus on abolition kept women involved, politically savvy and ready to take up the cause again once the war was over. When the United States joined the First World War, many women from various American suffrage organizations assisted with the war effort and with the Spanish pandemic that followed. There is evidence to suggest that they wererewardedin some states for their work during both crises.Embed from Getty Images
Finally, #MeToo needs to look for ways in which its issue and the crisis are interconnected and frame the movement narrative around that. But it must choose carefully. The womens suffrage movement sought to connect the plight of women with that of slaves. This tactic met with mixed reactions. Women were legally chattel at the time, but the reality of life for many white women in the movement was not identical to the reality of life for slave women. Thus, this tactic harmed some of their relations with abolitionists and didnt resonate with the public. But later in the movement, during World War I, women did successfully make the case to President Woodrow Wilson and other political leaders that it was ironic that the US was fighting for democracy abroad when it wasnt truly a democracy at home. So: Connect, but choose wisely and thoughtfully.
How can these lessons be put into in practice? During the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the groupWomen Deliverhas highlighted the interconnectedness of this virus and womens issues, thereby maintaining their work on womens issues while simultaneously showing their commitment to ending the pandemic. The frame is thoughtful and relevant. Many womens groups could adopt a similar approach, as we know this virus will have a disproportionate impactonlow-wage workersandpeople of color, but in particular women in both groups.
The #MeToo movement could organize around ways to help women who are stuck at home with an abuser during lockdown orders. While the #MeToo movement has been focused around sexual harassment at work, domestic violence is a close cousin. And the movement certainly could continue to organize around the sexual harassment that female low-wage workers continue to face as essential workers. This is as pressing as ever.
Crafting ways for those active in the movement to remain relevant at this time will help everyone. It will help the movement survive this time when attention is rightly directed elsewhere, it will help women in abusive relationships, and it will help women who continue to be sexually harassed in the workplace and have no recourse during this crisis. Given the roots of the movement, it is a logical step.
This article was first published in Fair Observer
The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect Qrius editorial policy.
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19th century ritual forcing Japanese workers to board trains and offices amid a coronavirus pandemic – The Press Stories
Posted: at 11:19 am
Tokyo Despite an official homework campaign and the unprecedented coronavirus crisis putting Japan in a state of emergency, Sayaka Azuma always visits his office in Tokyos Nishi-Azabu district regularly.
Everyone else in his tech company, Venture Republic, is locked up at home. But once a week, Azuma has to return to his office only to perform a ritual that dates back to the 19th century. Opening a velvet case, she grabs a wood hankoor seal by hand, apply vermilion ink and begin to carefully stamp a stack of official documents, affixing the stylized corporate seal on each page.
For security reasons, I am not allowed to take the company seals home, she told the CBS News partner network. TBS. So I have to go to the office to use them.
Azuma is not alone: many workers say they are forced to keep on packed trains in the city only to stamp by hand, or to print documents or perform other office work that would seem redundant to our digital age.
The continued use of hand seals in the Japanese business community is one of the reasons why suburban traffic remains stubbornly high in major cities well below the target of an 80% reduction, according to experts, must be reached in order to control the coronavirus epidemic here.
Research by a nonprofit organization, conducted this year, found that only 43% of Japanese businesses have adopted digital seals. Even among the high-tech companies in Tokyo that have adopted telework, almost all were still forced to deploy employees for hand stamping tasks.
For more than a century, dating from an era of low literacy, the Japanese have brandished finely carved hand seals not their John Hancocks to approve contracts, buy real estate, incorporate businesses and even sign school permission slips. In a way, in the midst of automation and digitization, the hanko managed to hang on.
The old custom has a loyal ally in the current government. Naokazu Takemoto, 79, who has been inexplicably entrusted with the governments information technology portfolio, is a big supporter of this archaic practice.
Takemoto gained fame last year after its website went offline and stayed there for months. He heads a parliamentary group dedicated to the preservation of hand seals. Asked if it was finally time to give Hanko the boot, Takemoto told reporters in mid-March that such migration was at the mercy of the private sector.
The root of the problem is not hanko its our paper-centric office work culture, writer Soichiro Matsutani told Yahoo News. Many offices were frozen in the 1970s or 1980s, and never went beyond word processors, photocopiers and fax machines.
But this time, with lives and livelihoods at stake, calls for the abolition of seals are growing stronger. A closely watched IT company, GMO, has announced that it is phasing out the use of hand seals. Seeing the writing on the wall, seal maker Shachihata unveiled a cloud-based signature service that allows users to apply an analog-like analog or vermilion seal to documents online.
The company gleaned around 2,000 orders in February for its seal that doesnt require an ink pad, which has a unique digital signature to prevent counterfeiting. In April, orders had reached 110,000.
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Opinion: Neil Mackay: We failed the heroes of VE Day … we cannot fail the heroes of Covid-19 – HeraldScotland
Posted: at 11:19 am
As we celebrate the triumphs of the Great Generation this weekend, Writer at Large Neil Mackay explores how we squandered their legacy, and warns that the same mistakes cannot be made again
LISTEN to Gus Bialick and youll learn everything you need to know about VE Day its significance, its promise, the way its legacy has been thrown away.
Gus was there as a soldier at the invasion of Sicily. We knew that we were doing something that would help every one us to live decently, he said. Without winning this war, wed have no chance of living a better life therefore this war had to be won.
When he recalled VE Day, Gus said: To feel that wed come out as a victorious nation and that we could still see a great future in front of us, it was a wonderful feeling.
Guss words werent triumphalist they were simple words of hope. He, and millions of others, risked their lives in order to make this country a better place. Thats the simple story of what VE Day meant to those who fought and died.
It should shame us that we failed Gus and all those other men and women. We didnt build on their sacrifice. We wasted it.
OVER the weekend, if we really wanted to honour the heroes of VE Day, the Gus Bialicks, wed have reflected soberly on how we let them down and threw away their legacy. Instead, we offered up Union Jack bunting, renditions of Well Meet Again, and cloying nostalgic sentimentality.
The men and women who won the war gifted us a world of opportunity and freedom which 75 years later weve squandered. They bled so we could inherit peace. Their struggle gave us the United Nations, the NHS, the welfare state. They forged for us the belief that the world was a meritocracy that you didnt have to stay poor, that life would get better as each generation progressed. They set us on the path to true personal freedom, where the individual decides what life they lead, not the church, state, family or society. They fought for tolerance, decency.
But nearly everything the Great Generation gifted us has been wasted. Weve trashed the international community the UN is a dark, useless joke. The NHS and welfare state have been crippled by years of neglect. The social mobility that the war generation began is a thing of the past. Instead of cherishing tolerance and difference of opinion, weve divided the world into politicised, cult-like camps of us and them we sit in our confirmation bias bubbles hating anyone we disagree with.
Then theres the Iraq War that squalid episode disgraces the memory of the Great Generation. They went to war to defeat aggression. In 2003, Britain and America lied to launch a war of aggression. The Great Generation fought for human rights. Today, the West wears badges of shame called Extraordinary Rendition and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques kidnap and torture.
Our failure to live up to the promise of the new world the Great Generation fought to build is made all the more egregious by how we exploit their memory. We invoke their courage, while simultaneously undoing everything they strived for; we use wartime metaphors with little consideration of what struggle really means. This time of global pandemic has been littered with lazy language which seeks to steal the glory of VE Day veterans. Politicians mouth platitudes about the Blitz spirit, and invoke the ghost of Winston Churchill, like children playing toy soldiers.
Yet, while we deploy the language of wartime amid coronavirus where are the remaining men and women who fought the war? Most are now in care homes the graveyards of coronavirus, where the death toll soars. Could there be a more disgraceful way to fail the people we pretend to honour?
The tragic irony is that were at it again repeating the same mistakes from the past. Today, we rightly recognise a new breed of hero the NHS worker, shelf stacker, delivery driver, cleaner. The people keeping the world running and saving lives while risking their own safety, as we shelter in lockdown. We talk of building a better world after the pandemic, of honouring the sacrifices of the heroes of coronavirus. But will we? Or will we squander their sacrifices just as we squandered the sacrifices of the heroes of the Second World War?
Many of us went into the pandemic imagining society would come out the other side fairer, more decent. As the days wear on, though, and we see how it is the weakest suffering the most the poor dying at twice the rate of the rich and how the wealthy and powerful suffer least, it is hard to believe that there will be that much-needed great reformation of society once this is over.
Perhaps, 75 years from now, our grandchildren will be celebrating the nurses who kept us safe during coronavirus, and wondering why we their grandparents didnt take 2020 as an opportunity to build the better world we promised.
IT has become fashionable to sneer at remembrance as if respecting those who fought in the war is somehow embracing the sins of empire, or an act of flag-wrapped xenophobia. It is not difficult, however, to reflect bitterly on empire, shun patriotic exceptionalism, loathe xenophobia, and still feel great respect for the sacrifices made by the Great Generation.
For folk my age, the sacrifices were tangible they were made by our grandparents. For my children, the memory grows more distant but Ive tried to keep a flame of remembrance burning because I know the simple, decent reasons why my grandparents went to war. They wanted that same better world that Gus Bialick dreamed of.
All four of my grandparents played their part. One grandfather was a sailor, the other a solider; one grandmother an army nurse, the other a civilian firewoman during the London Blitz. All were ordinary folk, their sacrifices no greater, nor less, than those made by millions. Although each lost friends and family, all four survived though my sailor grandfather eventually succumbed to his war wounds, dying too young.
I was closest to my maternal grandmother the firewoman. Her family was poor. Some had even spent time in the poorhouse. She knew squalor and hardship long before 1939. She told me stories of the war when I was little and each story had the same moral: we went through hell, so you didnt have to. The stories were never told with any demand for thanks or recognition there was no superiority to her memories of suffering. It was simply a fact: people like her wanted the world to be a better place for future generations.
You could call such simplicity the purest form of love. I do.
And so, it saddens me to think of so many idealistic people today folk who long for a better world rejecting any remembrance or reverence toward the Great Generation. You can remember in your heart, without decorating your breast with a poppy. Nor does remembering and honouring glorify death or the atrocities of war. Remembering ordinary individuals who wanted to make the world better isnt celebrating destruction and hatred.
This isnt to sentimentalise the Great Generation. Theirs was a generation with as many faults as any other. Nor should we forget the darkest side of the allied victory Dresden, Nagasaki. But their sacrifice far outweighs their sins the same cannot be said for any other generation, I believe.
Everyone of us has a forebear who fought and in many cases died. Admiration for the Great Generation shouldnt be a political act. When it comes to the exhausted phrase were all in it together, the Great Generation were the last people to really know what that means.
Litany of betrayal
LETS consider some of the many ways the legacy of the Great Generation has been squandered or abused how weve failed our own ancestors who bequeathed us so much.
For a start, we should consider something few of us even think of when we count the gifts the wartime generation gave us: liberal values. In a time of mass death, if youre in love and want to be together, it doesnt really matter whether youre married or not. War began to erode conservative attitudes. In my family, there were more than a few illegitimate children born because of the war.
Young people had risked their lives for six years come VE Day, and although Britain was still a conservative, religious country, change was starting. It would come to completion in the 60s and 70s with the pill, the abolition of the death penalty, legalisation of abortion and homosexuality, the Equal Pay Act, and the Racial Discrimination Act. We think it is the baby boomers who enacted these changes. It wasnt it was their parents, the Great Generation. They were the ones voting, running the country, setting the tone of debate as society gradually liberalised.
Liberal values are one of the few gifts from the Great Generation that we havent yet squandered they persist. The bitter irony is, we dont even acknowledge the debt. We credit their children the ones who began the dissolution of the work of the Great Generation, ushering in the conservative backlash of the 1980s.
Social mobility and income equality rose steadily after the war as Britain became a more financially fairer place. My own family, like millions of others, felt that first hand. We went from slums to universities in one generational leap. Then it stopped. Britain and America turned its back on the industrial working class. Reaganomics and Thatcherism saw inequality rapidly accelerate and social mobility stagnate. Today, were at a point where my children can expect a life worse off than mine. If thats not failing a generation who died so we could live better lives, then I dont know what is.
The Beveridge Report the foundation stone of the post-war welfare state and NHS named five giant social evils to be eradicated: want, ignorance, squalor, idleness and disease. Bit by bit that dream has been dismantled over the last 75 years. Today, we live in an era of foodbanks, declining schools and student debt, mass poverty, low wages, zero-hour contracts, intergenerational unemployment, and a gulf in life expectancy between the rich and the poor.
Im no Christian, but who could disagree with the then Archbishop of Canterbury, who said the Beveridge Report was the first time anyone had set out to embody the whole spirit of the Christian ethic in an Act of Parliament. We had heaven in our hands and let it slip through our fingers.
Welfare from schooling to income support to university to healthcare was to be comprehensive, universal. It wasnt meant to be an act of humiliation for the recipient no matter what their circumstances there would be no return to the poorhouse. Today, we make a sport of mocking benefits scroungers". Claiming financial assistance, even for the disabled, is demeaning, dehumanising sometimes it even kills.
The policy of full employment was cast aside as utopian it didnt pay investors and speculators enough as voodoo economics took hold. The idea of a fair playing field a simple metaphor at the heart of the Great Generations view of the world was for losers. Greed was good.
While the work at home of the Great Generation was gradually dismantled, so too were the changes they wrought on the worlds stage. The governments of Bush and Blair, with their push for preemptive war in Iraq, neutered the United Nations set up post-war to rein in aggressors.
Today, we live in a world where democracy the very essence of what the Great Generation fought for is under threat, often at the hands of democratically elected politicians. The Great Generation denazified Europe now the Nazis are back. Belief in democracy is crumbling.
The Great Generation gave us three decades of the post-war consensus": there would be active, positive state involvement in society, a mixed economy including nationalisation, strong trade unions, rigorous regulation, fair taxation, and a decent welfare state. Now thats withered on the vine. Reagan and Thatcher put a stake through the heart of those dreams. Social democracy limps on, badly wounded.
Our grandparents cared about the world around them, not just their own pocket. Their horror and outrage gave us the word genocide" in 1944 yet genocide goes on from Rwanda to Burma, while we watch on TV. Their decency saw them care tirelessly for Europes refugees post-war, rebuilding shattered lives, finding orphans new families. Now we tweet our thoughts and prayers about dead refugee children on Mediterranean beaches, and then pull up the drawbridge.
The Great Generation replaced empire with Europe. The wind of change blew and they knew how to adapt to Britains new place in the world. Then their children voted Brexit, and had the audacity to invoke the war as they did so. Now, weve thrown Europe away the continent the Great Generation brought peace to and so were back as we were in the 1930s, a little country on its own, minus an empire.
As the years wore on, we put this Great Generation in care homes. We gave up on the people who saved us and strived to make our lives better than theirs. We locked them away, and we stole their language we took words like blitz spirit and we rendered them meaningless. We reduced their struggle to a meme: Keep calm and carry on.
We may have failed them but weve a new generation of heroes sacrificing themselves today our essential workers from hospitals to supermarkets. They want a better world too just like the Great Generation. They dont need bunting or patriotic songs. They need they want, they deserve change which makes society a better, fairer place. We cant fail them. If we do, we just fail ourselves once again.
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