From Acquiescence to Rebellion – Jacobin magazine

People often talk about our own period as a second Gilded Age, and the assumption has been that it is a kind of repetition of the first Gilded Age. Thats true in terms of income and wealth inequality and so forth. But what always struck me was how different the response to that inequality and exploitation has been between the two gilded ages.

Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, there was an enormous resistance to the capitalist transformation of the United States. There were the farmer and labor parties of the 1870s and 1880s, the Knights of Labor, the Populists, the Socialist Party, and the IWW. But it wasnt limited only to the working class. There was a broader sense that the idea of what America was supposed to be all about was being violated. There was the Social Gospel movement, where all kinds of Christian radicals decried the savage capitalism that was in development. There were critical writers like Theodore Dreiser, William Dean Howells, or Jack London, and you had all kinds of jurists and ordinary politicians talking about the sins and problem of what was commonly denounced as wage slavery. Who would dare call capitalism wage slavery today, except maybe the Democratic Socialists of America or somebody?

It was a common part of our vocabulary in the first Gilded Age, not just for the likes of Emma Goldman or Bill Haywood, but everyone appalled by the bloody birth of modern capitalism and how it was wiping out whole ways of living. These were farmers, homesteaders, artisans, various small-business people, peasants from Europe who had come here and found themselves treated like animals in this maelstrom of industrialization. What you had was not just material deprivation but also a kind of spiritual resistance to a new and terrible existence.

People at the time had experience with older ways of life, and whether they wanted to return to them or not, they knew that capitalism was not a natural fact because it was brand-new and gut-wrenching in so many ways. So you had this broad culture of opposition, not just the organized movements. And then that goes away in the years after the New Deal. A major part of the explanation for that is the very success of New Deal reforms and mass consumption capitalism. There was a period of what economic historians call the Great Compression, when there was a reduction of economic inequality, high corporate tax rates, and individual tax rates on the wealthy. There was deficit spending as a regular part of the medicine chest of solutions to unemployment and economic downturns.

These things worked, at least for a time, and there was a great explosion in mass consumption and the American standard of living. That standard of living attracted people long before the New Deal came around. But the New Deal and the years that followed made the labor question seem no longer relevant. The seductions of consumer capitalism also worked to privatize concerns once thought of as social dilemmas, and to dissolve many forms of social solidarity. Were all talking about social distancing in the midst of this pandemic, but consumer capitalism might be thought of as one of the first forms of social distancing. So matters of exploitation faded from view.

One of the key things that accounted for this acquiescence politically was the Democratic Partys abandonment of its New Deal heritage. This happened gradually but decisively by the mid-1980s, when Bill Clinton, for example, became the head of the Democratic Leadership Council and made his peace with neoliberal economics. At this point, it is not interested in the labor movement anymore except as a kind of ATM and vote-gathering machine. Before all that, there was the devasting impact of the Cold War, not only through the purging of the labor movement of its radical unions and activists, but also a more general purging of the vocabulary of everyday life, so that older notions of wage slavery or plutocracy or even racial justice were verboten. And then theres the enormous toll of deindustrialization which wiped out whole towns, fraternal societies, unions, and much of the tissue of social solidarity built up over generations.

I think the good news is that this period is over. It began to end with the financial collapse in 2008, the emergence of Occupy Wall Street, and the reemergence of very militant worker actions, often independent of the organized labor movement. And now, of course, with Bernie Sanders and the movement behind him.

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From Acquiescence to Rebellion - Jacobin magazine

The disturbing history of tipping in the U.S.: "It’s literally a slave wage" – CBS News

REVERB is a new documentary series fromCBSN Originals. Watch the latest episode, "Surviving an Unlivable Wage," in the video player above.

The act of tipping is said to have started in feudal Europe, when strict social hierarchies prevented any real kind of social mobility and it was a common practice among aristocrats to tip servants. It wasn't brought over to the U.S. until the 19th century, and was only popularized after the Civil War. But in this country, instead of being additional compensation on top of a regular wage, it functioned as an immediate and racist solution for employers who did not want to pay recently freed black slaves.

"After Emancipation, the restaurant lobby demanded the right to hire newly freed slaves, mostly black women, not pay them anything, and have them live entirely on this new idea that had just come from Europe called a tip," said Saru Jarayaman, director of the Food and Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley and co-founder of the nonprofit advocacy group Restaurant Opportunities Centers United.

Surprisingly, in those early years, many considered tipping undemocratic and therefore un-American because of its roots in the aristocracy. "Tipping, and the aristocratic idea it exemplifies, is what we left Europe to escape. It is a cancer in the breast of democracy," wrote William Scott in 1916. But the railway and restaurant industries fought for using tipping as their employees' full wages, to exploit their African American labor force, and they won.

This legacy of slavery was institutionalized with the New Deal-era Fair Labor and Standards Act of 1938, which introduced the country's first federal minimum wage of $0.25. The original legislation excluded hotel, restaurant and other service workers, but in 1966, significant amendments finally included them. At the same time, though, the amendments introduced a sub-minimum wage, allowing employers to pay tipped workers a base wage below the federal minimum so long as the tips and wages added up to the minimum wage.

While some states have set higher minimums, the federal "tipped minimum wage" has stagnated at $2.13 an hour since 1991 and inflation has steadily eroded its purchasing power.

"It's unconscionable. It's literally a slave wage," said Jaramayan. "I do think it's important to recognize that this is a 70% female workforce. And so I do think, in thinking about how has a wage stayed at $2.13, when you're looking at an industry that's majority female, you understand that basically the nation has valued these women at a $2 wage."

Despite federal law requiring restaurants to ensure tipped workers end up with the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 by making up the difference when tips fall short, violations are rampant. From 2010 to 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor found that of over 9,000 investigated restaurants, 84% violated wage and hour laws. The same report also found 1,200 tip credit violations.

In most European countries now, service charges are included in the bill and tipping isn't required or encouraged. But in the U.S., tipped workers continue to rely almost entirely on tips, and they are struggling. In 2014, one in six restaurant workers lived below the poverty line, which is 10 percentage points higher than the average in other industries, and more than 40% made less than the "twice-poverty" rate double the official poverty line, which economists often consider the minimum needed to make ends meet.

"Essentially, what the restaurant industry has argued therefore for the last 150 years is, 'We shouldn't have to pay our workers. You, the customers, should pay our workers' wages for us,' which is not how it's done anywhere else in the world and not what tipping was intended to be," said Jamarayan.

Cassie Redman is a restaurant server living in Kokomo, Indiana, with two kids and husband who has a salaried job. Indiana is one of 15 states that allows restaurants to pay their employees the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13.

"You know, a lot of people will have like thousands of dollars in their savings because that's their life savings. Our life savings right now is about $400 and that's if an emergency happens," she said. "If a car breaks down and we need to tow it and that tow is going to be $100. That way we're not dipping into rent or gas or phone bill."

Redman and her family have to rely on garage sales and assistance to help them get by.

"Nowadays it's like you have to have four incomes in one household to just, like, be comfortably living. Like having cars that run, not having to go to food banks, not having to wake up early in the morning so you can go sit in a food bank for three hours to get enough food to last you a week," she said. "It's pretty sad."

Tipping has become a deeply ingrained tradition in the U.S., and though it's often portrayed as a way to ensure good service for customers, there is actually little evidence it has any effect on the quality of service. In recent years, some restaurants have decided to move away from tipping and pay their staff a living wage. Seven states have also shifted the burden to the employer, requiring them to pay the regular federal minimum wage with tips as additional compensation. Jaramayan said there is no reason why we shouldn't see this happen across the board.

"These are the jobs that are here to stay, number one. Number two, thousands, millions of these workers take great pride in their work," she said. "They consider themselves professionals. They love service and hospitality. It is not impossible for a restaurant to value these women, these workers, as the professionals that they are."

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The disturbing history of tipping in the U.S.: "It's literally a slave wage" - CBS News

The best video games to play while self-isolating – The Independent

Forced inside by the danger of coronavirus, where do we turn to for a sense of escape?

The answer, for many, is video games. Gaming statistics have skyrocketed in recent weeks in the US, Verizon reported an increase of 75 per cent since the quarantine began with people increasingly relying on their consoles and computers for diversion.

Even though a lot of people will be content to stick with old favourites such as Fifa, Fortnite or Grand Theft Auto while waiting for the lockdown to end, others may want something a little more off the beaten track.

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

This is a list of games that are well worth checking out over the coming weeks, be they lesser-known independent gems such as Kentucky Route Zero or games with particular resonance during the time of self-isolation, like Death Stranding.

Here are 17 games to play while self-isolating...

There are few games more antidotal to the stress of the current global crisis than Animal Crossing. Suffused with good cheer, New Horizons provides you with the perfect(admittedly kid-focused) sense of community while youre stuck inside your house.

New Horizons uses a real-time calendar system to mimic real-world seasonal weather patterns

With everybody stuck inside, it can sometimes feel like society is on the brink of a breakdown. In Cities: Skylines, you can construct your own virus-free metropolitan utopia, with a terrific amount of customisation available.

Theres more than a whiff of The X Files to Remedy Entertainments acclaimed 2019 shooter Control. Playing as Jesse Faden, you must explore the Federal Bureau of Control and defeat a sinister force known as The Hiss. Remedy has always excelled at gunplay, and the action here is thrilling.

This immersive RPG(role-playing game) tells the story of a shambling, drug-addled detective in a sci-fi dystopia who investigates a lynching near a dockworkers union. Inspired by TV series such as The Wire and The Shield, as well as artists such asRembrandt, Disco Elysium is dense and compelling.

In Hideo Kojimas ambitious, spiritual epic Death Stranding, you control a post-apocalyptic deliveryman transporting cargo across treacherous but beautiful landscape. Death Stranding is a game about connection; it speaks so specifically to this age of self-isolation that some players have even started calling it prophecy.

Norman Reedus and La Seydoux in Hideo Kojima's sci-fi epic Death Stranding

Media Molecules Dreams is a brilliant-but-complicated game creation system; self-isolation might just give you the time you need to really get to grips with its impressively detailed workings or to play through the ever-expanding database of content made by others.

No doubt many of us are currently dreaming of escape and freedom; Inside is a game that holds this yearning to its core. Created by the team behind the indie hit Limbo, this puzzle-platform game is even weirder than its predecessor but no less enjoyable.

Spread across five acts, this contemplative, unendingly surprising point-and-click game is nothing short of a masterpiece. Developed and released over the span of a decade, Kentucky Route Zero explores weighty themes of addiction and wage slavery with the pithy postmodernism of a Don DeLillo novel.

Kentucky Route Zero tackles big themes with a solemn musical brilliance

OK, so nobody could argue that Naughty Dogs hugely successful post-apocalyptic thriller qualifies as a hidden gem. But theres never been a better time to revisit The Last of Us, with the sequel just months away and the world outside increasingly resembling Joel and Ellies desperate reality it might even be cathartic.

The classic block-building game has made its educational editions free to download while children worldwide are cooped up without school. But the original version of the game is still a great shout in times of trouble its sublimely peaceful and you can pour countless hours of your time into it.

Nioh took the tricky combat design of the Dark Souls franchise and smoothly transposed it to 17th-century Japan. This years prequel, Nioh 2, is even better: a hard, rewarding action RPG with a great setting and plenty of depth.

Nioh 2 colours its historical Japanese setting with dynamic action and great RPG elements

With a sweeping soundtrack and appealing characters, Ori and the Will of the Wisps sometimes feels like a Pixar film, in all the best ways. But this delightful platformer isnt just for kids as its formidable difficulty suggests.

Strategy game Plague Inc. was removed from the Chinese app store recently, seemingly on grounds of taste, but this virus simulator actually offers a genuine education on the ways viruses are disseminated through society. After a coronavirus-related sales boom, the games creators donated more than 200,000 to help fight the pandemic.

For those looking for something a bit different, Lucas Popes Return of the Obra Dinn is a fantastic puzzle game like no other. You play an insurance salesman investigating a ghost ship; the aim of the game is to identify all the Obra Dinns passengers and crew and determine how they died.

A ship is attacked by a beast from the deep in Lucas Pope's Return of the Obra Dinn

If you feel like you dont have much control over your own life at the moment, you can at least have total dominion over the lives of others, in this sensationally popular simulation game. And as anyone whos played it can attest, the hours fly by at triple speed when The Sims manages to get its hooks into you.

Stellarisputs you in command of a species who have just cracked the science of interstellar travel. If youre looking for a way to kill some serious time, you can hardly do better than this sprawling strategy game, which forces you to juggle diplomacy, exploration and warfare to build the ultimatespace empire.

While a game like Animal Crossing is a great reminder of the pleasures society can bring you, Untitled Goose Game is all about shaking that society up. As a havoc-wreaking goose, you dont know the meaning of the phrase social distancing you honk, peck and flap your way around a small English village, leaving a trail of frustrated farm folk in your wake.

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The best video games to play while self-isolating - The Independent

Who By Fire, Who By Water, Who By COVID-19, And Who Gets My Respirator? – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr

A very distinguished scientist asked me, in the context of comparing the treatment and the statistics of older and younger victims of the coronavirus pandemic: I was wondering if Judaism teaches us that it is worse to lose an old life than a young one. Is seems a form of selfishness that is likely held by an aging population. Can you help me with this?

I enclose my response:

You asked if Judaism teaches us that it is worse to lose an old life than a young one.

First, I must warn you that I am not a rabbi and that everything I will submit to you here is based on my personal learning, as well as on a phone conversation with my own rabbi. We went over the most available sources to answer your question in a satisfactory fashion, but you should know that Judaism teaches a whole lot of things and then turns around and teaches the opposite.

The essential discussion of setting value to a human life appears in Leviticus 27, and it has to do with the need to assign a value to the sacrifice that an individual has vowed to dedicate to the Temple. If a Jewish person makes a clearly defined vow to God to give Him an amount equal to the value of a human being, this persons value must be set as follows: a man between the ages of 20 and 60 is worth 50 silver shekels; a woman, 30 shekels; a child 5 to 20, 20 shekels for a boy and 10 for a girl; a baby one month to 5 years of age, 5 shekels for a boy and 3 for a girl; a person past sixty, 15 shekels for a man and 10 for a woman; and if the person is too poor to be evaluated, a cohen will assign him a value in keeping with his means.

Obviously, the various values above correspond to the price of slaves in the marketplace, and in a culture where ones donation to the Temple depends on his or her price had they been sold for slavery this is quite practical.

Incidentally, this system becomes crucial in evaluating the amount of compensation to be paid to the victim of an injury by the assailant, as our sages have interpreted the rule of an eye for an eye to mean the price of an eye for an eye. And when it comes to setting a price on a lost body part, much as it is done by insurance companies nowadays, we must know the earning potential of the individual in question be it as a wage earner or as a person sold to slavery.

So you can see that the Torah has a sober view of the value of different people. At which point, as it was on the occasion of your radio interview, Jewish law throws a red herring our way.

In tractate Sanhedrin 74., there is a discussion of what must one do if a gentile officer ordered him to turn in a fellow Jew to be killed or suffer death himself. The sages rule that one must accept death rather than turn in another, with the poignant explanation: How can you be sure that your blood is redder than his? His being the fellow Jew wanted by the authorities. And by redder blood, the sages mean being more loved by God. How do you know which one of you God finds more deserving of a violent end?

And, of course, in a situation of duress like that one, every Jew is equal and we dont have the right to prefer one Jewish life over another.

But, as I said (or, actually, my rabbi said), its a red herring.

Because we have a system of comparative values which is based on a third set altogether: holiness. Tractate Horayot 13. teaches:

A priest precedes a Levite; a Levite precedes an Israelite; an Israelite precedes a mamzer; a mamzer precedes a Gibeonite; a Gibeonite precedes a convert; a convert precedes an emancipated Canaanite slave.

The text explains at length this hierarchy, and it all comes down to how close one is allowed to get to the holiest sanctuary at the Temple, where the High Priest sees God eye to eye on Yom Kippur.

From the above set of values, would think that Jewish law is disturbingly reminiscent of the Hindu tradition, with its casts that descend from the Brahmins down to the Untouchables. But then the Mishna throws a monkey wrench in the spokes of the bicycle of tradition and teaches: When do these rules of precedence take effect? In circumstances when they are all equal in terms of wisdom. And the rabbis cite Proverbs 3:15: She (meaning Torah) is more precious than rubies, therefore, they say, a scholar who happens to be a mamzer is higher in value than a high priest who is uneducated.

So weve covered three systems by which Jewish tradition evaluates and compares people. But the Responsa, which by nature is more immediate and can be compared more directly to the context of your inquiry, considers additional values. Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein, a prominent posek living in Bnei Brak, suggests that in a dilemma between saving a few severely injured individuals or a large number of more moderately injured, the larger group is prioritized. The IDF Rabbinate determines that the rules of medical triage be applied in saving individuals, based on the severity of their condition juxtaposed with their chances of recovery.

But I am not familiar, and neither is my rabbi, with a Jewish view that says an older person is deserving of a lesser medical or other attention than a younger person based on their age difference alone. For instance, the suggestion that was passed around a week ago in Israel that older persons on respirators would be made to give up their machines in favor of younger patients, is outright abhorrent in my eyes. In such a case, one surely must ask: who told you that your blood is redder than your fellow Jew?

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Who By Fire, Who By Water, Who By COVID-19, And Who Gets My Respirator? - The Jewish Press - JewishPress.com

From plagues to Promised Land: Lets build a world of solidarity – Jewish Journal

I remember a conversation with my son, who is 12 and studying for a Bar Mitzvah that is now in a holding pattern. Last year, at Passover, he told me he didnt think it was fair that in order to free the slaves regular Egyptians had to suffer the plagues.

If you didnt think slavery was right, he asked, was your water still turned to blood? What about poor Egyptians? Did they suffer as much, or more?

Carin Mrotz

I think of that question as we watch a modern plague spread. A virus has no regard for wealth or education. A grandmother in the midwest contracts COVID-19; so does an A-list actor on vacation around the world. Millionaires shelter in place; my parents, retired public school teachers, shelter in place.

But while a virus may not discriminate, the effects are and will be felt more by certain people. Some, due to age or other risk factors, are more susceptible, more likely to suffer and even perish. Beyond the direct impacts of illness itself, the costs of a pandemic will be borne disproportionately by those already on the margins.

Small businesses will be hit harder than giant corporations. Low-wage workers, disproportionately women of color, will become unemployed while many of us work from home or use paid time off. Some will be forced to choose between paying for healthcare or rent, though not all of us will have to grapple with this; some wont be able to afford either one.

I attended a dinner with Ruth Messinger, then CEO of American Jewish World Service, shortly after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. She told us, a group of justice advocates, that we must understand how often the impacts of natural disasters arent natural at all. The scale of the earthquakes damages, like those of Hurricane Katrina, was multiplied because of a place and people who by greed or imperialism had been stripped of their ability to withstand devastation.

In New Orleans, the poorest neighborhoods were developed in the areas most likely to flood; while no accurate death toll has ever been taken, the majority of those who died in Hurricane Katrina were black and poor.

In Haiti, the effects of the earthquake were magnified because of mass deforestation for use in industries like coal production, which led to soil erosion, flooding, and a lack of sustainable agriculture, causing poverty and near famine.

In some ways, COVID-19 is like a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a plague: Those most negatively impacted will likely be those furthest from the power to mitigate or to bear the damage.

Had those in leadership taken the disease more seriously, would we have more tests available? Would hospitals be more prepared to treat the afflicted? Had Pharaoh acted sooner, would Egyptians have been spared locusts? Or worse? And today, will those with the most power use their resources to help those most impacted? Or will they protect themselves and their power at their followers expense?

This Passover, we can ask ourselves what we would do to mitigate the suffering of our neighbor. We can ask how support might become solidarity how donating money for medical supplies might translate to a structural fight to make sure everyone has access to healthcare and all workers have paid sick leave.

Ask how donating to an emergency shelter might become a push for rent control. We can remember that once the plagues had ended and the Israelites were freed, a long desert journey was still ahead, the Promised Land yet to be defined, and we can decide what world we will build together.

This is one in a series of pieces on Passover during coronavirus. Read the rest of the series here.

Carin Mrotz is the Executive Director of Jewish Community Action and has been organizing Jews in Minnesota for racial and economic justice since 2004. She is currently sheltering in place with her family at home in Minneapolis.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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From plagues to Promised Land: Lets build a world of solidarity - Jewish Journal

Unsanitized: A Crisis to End All Crises – The American Prospect

The following is a guest version of Unsanitized from Mehrsa Baradaran, a professor of law at UC Irvine School of Law, and author of How the Other Half Banks and The Color of Money. She is also a Prospect board member.

Experts studying climate change, growing inequality, wage stagnation, and unsustainable debt have for years been trying to warn the public that, even though life seems normal for many people, these issues signal a critical crisis and ongoing epidemics. Communities across the US are suffering an epidemic of drug addiction, an epidemic of deaths of despair arising from poverty, an epidemic of anxiety because of the student loan crisis. Wave after wave of famines, crop failures, and wildfire crises (and now, an ominous swarm of locusts) have their origins in climate change. Yet business went on as usual, as the crises and epidemics raged slowly in the background.

Now, a global pandemic threatens all of us at once. The coronavirus has generated a tragedy of epic proportions; many lives will be lost in a short amount of time. Yet still, the other less acute epidemics will continue to rage on, unless we take this long pause as an opportunity to consider whether we want to reemerge from this crisis back to the way we were, or whether we want to shape a new way forward.

There are a few connected realities that have emerged from this crisis, which can guide us as we try to deal with our previous, ongoing crises:

First, our actions affect other people even when we arent aware. What were all learning during this pandemic is that, as we go about our normal lives, we put other people in grave danger. So it has always been with climate changeeach time we overconsume, buy gas, and basically maintain our current state of economic growth, we contribute to a warming planet that is causing climate disasters all over the world. All of our individual and collective actions can cause dislocation, death, famine, and scarcity. Our lives and fates have always been linked, because the earths resources are not unlimited. Each one of us who takes more than our share of resources causes harm somewhere else.

Second, the imperatives of economic growth conflict with lives lost. Our president has signaled that he would not let the coronavirus cure be worse than the disease. Other commenters, many of whom are not fans of the president, have been echoing this line of thinking. They characterize it as a trade-off; social isolation is going to hammer the economy as it slows the spread of the virus. Others have put it more crudely: sacrificing a portion of the population to death might be better than watching the stock market tank.

But the tension between human well-being and market well-being has always existed. The current structure of our economy relies on perpetual GDP growth, which requires that we favor a return on capital rather than human flourishing or ecological health. Usually, some group of humans has to sacrifice their labor, their land, or their health for the sake of economic growth. The drive toward profits has led to slavery, labor exploitation, sweatshops, and our current winner-takes-all economy. Economic growth has always come at a cost, whether manifested in the famines and starvations of the colonized world or todays corporate exploitation of labor and resources. People continue to die prematurely and live brutal lives of poverty and endless work.

Third, we can stop the status quo if we need to. To watch the entire world grind to a halt has been jarring and scary and disorienting. To see rigid rules and institutions adapt has also been stunning. Schools have quickly gone online, in-person meetings have become webinars and conference calls, and travel has been cancelled. We adapted quickly. We can live another way. We can consume less, take fewer carbon-emitting trips, and relax our work lives. This sudden and dramatic adaptability will be necessary as we consider our carbon future and attempt to halt a growth-based economy.

Fourth, downturns hit the economically vulnerable the hardest, and those at the bottom of the economy happen to be its most essential parts. About 40% of Americans could not access $500 if they faced an unexpected expense. Many Americans who work full-time cannot afford food and shelter if they go without wages for a month or two. Many of these workers also happen to be the grocery store clerks, nurses, sanitation workers, and delivery men and women we are all relying on right now. A deep irony of our economy has been that the workers who work the most in the hardest jobs earn the lowest salaries. In our current market system, firms are by law and design focused exclusively on earning profits for their shareholders. By squeezing their companies for maximum profits, investors and managers have replaced well-paid employees with benefits with low-wage or temporary workers to lower their costs of production. Meanwhile, shareholders have engaged in stock buybacks, evaded taxes through offshore loopholes, and lobbied for more tax cuts and subsidies, increasing the holdings of their billionaire owners. As increased wealth has accumulated at the top, the financial lives of the majority of Americans have become more precarious. The growing wealth of the 1 percent has come at the expense of the involuntary sacrifice of their workers. These so-called low skilled employees are now the main essential workers in the economy.

We were always on an unsustainable path. We have always been inflicted by ongoing pandemics. Perhaps we can use this time to consider what kind of world we want to emerge into. This crisis is already a tragedy of unprecedented proportions, but it would be an even greater tragedy if we did not use it as a wake-up call to address our nations ongoing epidemics.

The numbers are getting grim. As of this morning, the New York Times shows 123,617 U.S. cases (102,636 yesterday) and 2,133 deaths (1,646). Johns Hopkins University shows 124,686 cases (104,860) and 2,191 deaths (1,711). The death toll has doubled in just two days, a terrible sign if it continues. The COVID-19 Tracker shows 121,468 cases (101,369) and 2.045 deaths (1,593), with better news on testing: 762,015 tests completed (645,669 yesterday). Over 220,000 tests have been completed in the past two days, which is great. But Bill McBride asks some good questions about putting the increased testing capacity to use: who will handle tracking, follow-ups, database management, etc., so we can actually implement a test-and-trace system that will allow most people to return to their lives?

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Unsanitized: A Crisis to End All Crises - The American Prospect

18 Organizations to Support During National Farmworker Awareness Week – EcoWatch

Farmworkers feed the world. This is the rallying cry of the Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF), an organization that works with students, advocates, and farmworkers across the United States to create a more just agricultural system. The crucial contribution that farmworkers make to the food system has only heightened amid the C0VID-19 pandemic, as farmworkers are among the list of critical positions that the United States Department of Homeland Security encouraged to continue a normal working schedule.

Although a lower population density in agricultural regions may delay the spread of COVID-19, farmworkers may face heightened risks to the disease due to their exposure to environmental and chemical hazards. Most farmworkers also lack comprehensive healthcare benefits as well as paid sick leave. According to the U.S. Department of Labor just 47 percent of farmworkers report having health coverage, meaning they have no benefits to fall back on if they get sick.

From March 25-31, 2020 SAF is celebrating the 21st Annual National Farmworker Awareness Week at a time when it may be more important than ever to advocate for farmworkers' rights. SAF and their partner organizations aim not only to celebrate farmworkers but also to raise awareness about the many challenges that farmworkers continue to face. For instance, agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries but farmworkers have considerably lower wages and less access to social benefits than others in hazardous occupations.

The week culminates on Cesar Chavez day, which commemorates the historic activist and founder of the United Farmworkers of America. To amplify the message of National Farmworker Awareness Week and support farmworkers during this uncertain time, Food Tank is highlighting 18 organizations that advocate for farmworkers' rights and wellbeing.

The AFL-CIO is the largest U.S. based federation of unions that protects the rights of workers in a variety of industries, including food and agriculture. They take action to prevent child labor in agriculture, support diversity in farming and land access, improve farm and food worker wages, ensure overtime pay, and fight for immigration policies that help agricultural workers attain employment security.

The Center for Good Food Purchasing encourages large institutions to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) an initiative that facilitates shifts in institutional food purchasing toward local food economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. Implementation of the GFPP is currently being carried out in multiple cities and school districts across the U.S.

The CIW is a worker rights organization that exemplifies the power of farmworker community organizing. Their internationally recognized Worker-driven Social Responsibility paradigm led to significant advances in human rights within corporate supply chains. Through this approach, the CIW successfully negotiated agreements that improved worker labor standards and wages with Whole Foods, McDonald's, Subway, and Walmart through its Fair Food Program focused on Florida tomato growers.

CAGJ is a grassroots organization based in Seattle, WA that aims to strengthen local economies by transforming unjust trade and agricultural policies. Through community education, grassroots organizing, research and analysis, and media outreach they support healthy local food economies in which optimal labor rights are achieved.

Fairfood international works to create a food system in which value is distributed along the supply chain proportionally and food is produced with the wellbeing of people, animals, and the planet in mind. By advancing supply chain transparency they help the agri-food sector identify improvements in sustainability and solutions for the payment of a living wage in supply chains.

FWP is a global organization devoted to promoting fair trade for small producers and labor justice for workers. They emphasize that unfair trade policies and corporate-friendly business practices continue to harm people and the planet. Their solution is to educate and advocate for a just global economy that respects the environment and they have active campaigns supporting coffee, melon, and cocoa farmers and farmworkers.

FLOC is a labor union affiliated with the AFL-CIO that aims to give farmworkers a voice in the decisions that affect their economic security and wellbeing. Baldemar Velasquez founded the organization in 1967 and built it into a more than 20,000-member strong organization that mobilizes, educates, and trains farmworkers to advocate for their labor rights.

Farmworker Justice seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to achieve fair wages, occupational safety, immigration status, and improved overall living and working conditions. They frequently engage with government officials and administrative agencies to advocate for improvements in U.S. labor laws, guest worker programs, and clearer paths to U.S. citizenship for the approximately 1.25 million seasonal workers on U.S. farms and ranches that lack authorized immigration status.

The Food Chain Workers Alliance is a Los Angeles, California based coalition of worker rights organizations. They advocate for improved wages and working conditions for the people who plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell food. The FCWA also leverages the Good Food Purchasing Program as a tool to win fair wages and improve working conditions within institutional supply chains.

The ILO is a United Nations agency devoted to promoting social justice and ensuring that internationally recognized human and labor rights are upheld. Their Decent Work Agenda focuses on working with stakeholders in their 187 member states to set labor standards and develop policies and programs that support decent work, fair globalization, and poverty reduction.

La Via Campesina is an international coalition of organizations that defend food sovereignty as a way to promote social justice and worker dignity. They built a movement that amplifies the voices of smallholder peasant farmers and aims to decentralize the power of corporate driven agriculture, which they argue is destructive to the environment and social relations.

The mission of Migrant Justice is to strengthen the capacity and power of the farmworker community to collectively organize for economic justice and human rights. By investing in leadership development, Migrant Justice enhances farmworker community members' skills in community organizing and capacity to produce systemic change. Among their accomplishments is the Milk with Dignity agreement with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, an industry contract to implement a worker-driven social responsibility program.

As an organization led by fisherfolk, NAMA was founded to promote healthy and economically secure fisheries and fishing communities. Their organizing efforts extend beyond human rights to include sustainability efforts that ensure the long-term resilience of marine food systems and the promotion of equitable access to fair markets for small and medium-scale community-based fisherfolk.

Oxfam international operates in more than 90 countries and is centrally focused on ending the injustice of global poverty. They place a large emphasis on food and farming in their work because they note that three-fourths of the world's hungry people live in rural areas, many of whom are farmers, fishers, herders, and laborers. Through Oxfam's Behind the Brands Campaign, consumers can track major food brand's progress in supporting farmworkers and the planet.

The Washington, D.C. based Solidarity Center is an international organization partnering with over 400 labor unions and human rights organizations in 60 countries to support workers' rights. Seafood, agriculture, and food processing are among the many industries that they aim to effect change in by providing technical and legal expertise, bolstering union's advocacy efforts, connecting workers to protective networks, and more.

Teamsters is one of North America's most diverse labor unions, representing workers in a wide range of industries from sanitation workers in New York to vegetable growers in California. The organization supports workers in advocating for contracts that ensure fair wages, health coverage, job security, paid time-off and retirement income. Once these contracts are negotiated, Teamsters works to hold companies accountable by invoking contract grievance procedures if necessary.

National Farmworker Awareness week ends on a day commemorating the founder of UFW, Cesar Chavez, because the organization is the nation's first union explicitly for farmworkers. Their work to protect labor rights in the agricultural sector continues today as they have facilitated dozens of UFW union contract victories that secured farmworkers' rights including fair wages, overtime pay, protections from occupational health hazards, and more.

Walk free tackles one of the world's most complex and prevalent human rights issuesmodern slavery. They devote resources and collaborative organizing efforts to drive behavior and legislative changes that liberate people trapped in slavery. They also conduct research to build a comprehensive database of the estimated 44 million people living in modern slavery and have campaigned to protect children working in the chocolate industry as well as farmworkers in the palm oil industry.

Farmworkers truly are the backbone of our food system and these 18 organizations work to ensure that their rights are being adequately met or exceeded. By continuing to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, farmworkers are risking their health to prevent disruptions in the food supply. National Farmworker Awareness Week provides a time to reflect on the contributions farmworkers make to society and raise awareness about the issues they continue to grapple with, especially in the face of global pandemic.

Student Action with Farmworkers has a number of resources and to help individuals and organizations engage in the 21st Annual National Farmworker Awareness week from March 25-31, 2020.

Reposted with permission from Food Tank.

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18 Organizations to Support During National Farmworker Awareness Week - EcoWatch

Sam Stubbs: Now is the time for employers to keep faith with workers – Stuff.co.nz

Now the initial wave of panic and uncertainty has passed, many big businesses will be thinking about how to prepare for an uncertain future.

Redundancies are often the first thing considered, and are enacted to cut costs, protect profits and please shareholders.

But as a KiwiSaver manager and shareholder in many of NZ's largest companies, our message is clear: Redundancies should be the last option.

Here are five simplereasons why.

READ MORE:* Full coronavirus coverage*Hundreds call cops to dob on lockdown cheats*At the going down of the sun

1. It fuels the recession.

Layoffs are the surest way of exacerbating a recession. The redundant worker loses income, and so do the supermarkets, cinemas, sports clubs, cafes and bars they spent money at. And it provides a bad example for others to justify their redundancies, turning it into an unnecessary downward spiral.

It's usually bad economics. The cost of redundancies is typically 3-6 months of an employees salary. That means it's 3-6 months before a company starts saving money from the redundancy.


Sam Stubbs is calling on businesses not to fuel the recession by laying off staff.

Most layoffs occur at the end of recession, not the beginning, so the companies often pay for the redundancy and find themselves re-hiring quite soon thereafter. The finance industry is notorious for this.

Underperforming companies are always restructuring in the good times, and firing their people quickly in the bad times. By contrast, great companies like Honeywell go to the nth degree to keep staff through the economic cycle.

2.It's bad for a companys' future.

The average time for an economic recession is 12-18 months. Given that this crash is caused by a virus, the recession may be savage, but also over faster than feared right now. Who knows. But however it pans out, in tough times companies often can't see the recovery just round the corner. And if they fire staff, when the recovery comes (and it will) they will be understaffed, and spend time and money rebuilding teams they fired in a panic.

3. It's bad for mental health.

There is nothing as demoralising, and destructive, as laying off an employee in a bad job market. Every worker typically has others dependant on their income. It's a blow to self esteem, and down right terrifying for some.

If companies believe they have any social license, it's first and foremost owed to the employees who depend on them. A company's culture is defined by how it treats its employees, especially in the bad times.

4. The Government is helping, big time.

Subsidies and loan support for all companies in trouble is a clear signal that the Government wants businesses to retain jobs, and they'll spend billions making that happen.

New Zealand Parliament

Finance Minister Grant Robertson unveils $12.1b package to help protect the economy against the coronavirus fallout.

For Government that's a sensible strategy, they may as well pay subsidies for salaries rather than in the form of benefits, and there is a simple dignity in someone keeping their job. It's good for shareholders too, because being fully staffed for the recovery means most businesses will make profits again sooner, and be paying taxes too.

5. Great and enduring companies are ultimately a combination of three things- an idea,money and people.

Great ideas are everywhere, you'll find most of them on the web. And money for good ideas is increasingly available. KiwiSaver managers alone will invest $70 billion in New Zealand in the next ten years. But great people are always hard to find, and nothing signals 'employees don't really matter around here' more than team mates losing their jobs early on.

As a shareholder in many of New Zealand's biggest companies, our perspective is very clear. Great companies value their employees first and foremost. From that will flow motivated teams delivering very satisfied customers and enduring profits. But let great people go, and what makes your company great goes too. As Richard Branson says, employees come first.

And there's no such thing as a company with demotivated staff delivering sustainable long term profits. That ended with slavery.

My business hero, Stephen Tindall, once said that a great person with an average idea is far more likely to succeed than an average person with a great idea. So keeping quality people matters most.

So how does a company adapt for recession without cutting jobs? History has shown some winning ways.

First, the CEO's and directors need to take a meaningful and public pay cut.

That's a strong signal about priorities, and will help save some jobs until better times.

CEO's and directors are no more entitled to their salary and job security than anyone else.

As leaders, they should take any pain first. Is it any wonder that Rod Duke runs Briscoes so successfully? He just took a 100 per centpay cut until things improve. Bravo.


Rod Duke, the head of Briscoes Group, has taken a 100 per cent pay cut until the coronavirus crisis is over.

By contrast, some CEO's have taken no pay cut, or have agreed to take one only as large as everyone else. That is not great leadership, because great leaders eat last.

Next, discretionary spending needs to be pared back. There are always ways to save money without cutting jobs. It's different for each business, but each one should know how.

Talk to your accountants and get advice. If a CEO hasn't done this before, many others have.

Next is tough conversations with creditors.

Banks have a big role to play here.

They make over $5 billion a year from Kiwis, so have a social license to do the right thing in tough times.

The Reserve Bank has just relaxed their capital requirements so they can be more lenient with lending, and the Government is underwriting 80 per centof the risk of many new loans. The banks have effectively had their success through this crisis underwritten by the Reserve Bank and Government. Remind them of that when re-negotiating your loans.

And if all that doesn't work, employees should be involved in planning how everyone can take some pain to save jobs. It might be unpaid leave for all, a four day week, or everyone taking a small salary or wage cut.

Any wage cuts should hurt more at the top than at the bottom, and there will be some on minimum wage for which any wage cut might be too big a deal. But where there's a will, there's usually a way.

Teams that survive the tough times intact will thrive when things improve. And remember, the economy has improved after every recession. Every single time.

As a KiwiSaver manager, we have a very clear message to the CEO's and directors of New Zealand's biggest companies, many of which we are invested in.

Right now it's better to have lower profits, or no profits, in order to keep your team employed. Doing so dampens the recession, so we all recover faster. And it's the right thing to do for the long term. Short term profits simply don't matter right now, keeping your team intact does.

We are stronger together. Kia Kaha.

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Sam Stubbs: Now is the time for employers to keep faith with workers - Stuff.co.nz


Wage slavery refers to a situation where a workers livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate.It is a pejorative term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor by focusing on similarities between owning and renting a person. The termwage slavery has been used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops),and the latter as a lack of workers self-management, fulfilling job choices and leisure in an economy.The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their species characternot only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma and status diminution. The view that working for wages is akin to slavery dates back to the ancient world.

In 1763, the French journalist Simon Linguet published a description of wage slavery:

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What makes Thomas Piketty so sure he can save the world? – Spectator.co.uk

Capital and Ideology

Thomas Piketty, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer

Harvard University Press, pp. 1150, 31.95

The French economist, statistician and polymath Thomas Piketty sprang to fame in 2013 with a daunting tome, Capital in the Twenty- First Century. In it he documented a fundamental force of divergence in the capitalist system, which he represented by the equation r>g the tendency for returns to capital to grow faster than national income, and therefore for wealth to concentrate in fewer and fewer hands. This tendency was reversed between 1914 and 1980 by the impact of two world wars, the Great Depression, social democracy and the trade unions, but it has since reasserted itself, restoring levels of inequality last seen 100 years ago.

In his new blockbuster, Capital and Ideology, Piketty studies the transformation of inequality regimes from premodern trifunctional and slave societies to todays hyperglobalisation, concentrating on the capitalist or proprietarian period from 1800. The book culminates in a programme for social democratic renewal to overcome the distempers of hyperglobalisation. The whole trajectory of human history is compressed into this framework if compression is the right word to describe this sprawling production of more than 1,000 pages

Piketty has amassed a huge amount of learning in support of a single thesis: that inequality societies have been the historical norm but they are not inevitable. Rather, they depend on ideologies of justification, and much of the book is devoted to examining these ideologies, showing how they have always been contested and how they might be transcended, It is impossible not to admire the skill and perseverance with which he deploys his massive arsenal of data and arguments. Still, what caused this reviewer to rub his eyes was Pikettys audacious self-assurance. Despite much cosmetic homage to the daunting complexity of his subject matter, he really does believe that he has solved the riddle of history. The magic key is not Marxs class struggle but ideological conflict over property systems. Property ownership, Piketty writes, always involves workers sacrificing a substantial proportion of her [sic] wage to an owners profit or landlords rent ...That is why property relations are always conflictual. Each new property-ownership system creates contradictions which lead to its demise. Conflict ceases when private property ceases to be important. Thus Pikettys history too leads to the end of history.

In the light of this reading, his reform agenda seeks, logically enough, to rob property of its sting. He rejects public ownership of the means of production the communist fallacy. Rather, he seeks to modify the property system by supplanting sacralised private ownership with public, social and temporary ownership, realised by co-partnership and steeply progressive taxes on wealth and income. Political control over international capital would be secured by regional, and eventually global, federalist structures:

What I have just described is a cooperative and ideal (not to say idyllic) scenario that would lead, via concentric circles, to a vast transnational democracy, ultimately resulting in just common taxes, a universal right to education and a capital endowment, free circulation of people, and de facto abolition of borders.

Piketty repeatedly insists that his is the only progressive way of overcoming the social anger of our own times. Nineteenth- century European ownership societies conquered the world but failed to establish fully legitimate governments because the extreme concentration of wealth they produced generated social tensions which ultimately led European nations to self-destruct. The compression of inequality in the mid-20th century, made possible by social democratic ideas and labour and democratic mobilisation, eased social conflict, but didnt go far enough, allowing neo-proprietarianism to creep back. Today we again face a choice between progress and self-destruction.

Whatever we think of Pikettys remedies, we should not ignore his warning. Since the crash of 2008 there has been growing discontent with the hyper-globalist model of progress, in which financial capital is set free from national control, allowing it to accumulate without limit. Piketty argues that the justified anger of the least advantaged, now being mobilised by nativist and identitarian political movements (Piketty rightly rejects calling them populist), may well develop a destructive momentum unless it is harnessed to a renewed model of social progress. His giant historical tome is thus conceived as an antidote to both hyper-capitalism and the post-colonial identitarian trap. Social democracy is the only way to save the planet from disaster.

The obvious question is: has Piketty read the plot of history right? There are at least five reasons to doubt it.

First, Piketty is unable to explain the historic persistence of inequality of wealth and power. The so-called trifunctional systems of pre-modern times, in which society was divided into priests, warriors and cultivators, did not need to be justified ideologically: it was seen as part of the natural order of things. It was only when property lost its regalian (governing) functions to the centralised state in the 19th century that the legitimacy of unequal property holdings started to be politically questioned. This happened with capitalism. Capitalism, which emancipated property from social duties, was not natural, so a function had to be invented for it, which was to lift humanity out of poverty. Setting capital and labour free to be bought and sold in global markets would benefit all. Piketty is particularly good on the role of neoclassical economics in robbing capitalism of its taint of illegitimacy.

But what his account ignores is that conflict has always been as much about identity as about equality, and the first cannot be reduced to the second, as Piketty wants to do. The idea that property relations are real and national borders are artificial smacks of the old Marxist fallacy. It led Marxist parties to believe that workers had no country and would not rally to the national cause in 1914. The same blindspot leads Piketty to a partly wrong diagnosis of our present discontents. What he attributes to anger at rising inequality is just as importantly fear of loss of national identity. Borders define communities, as the Brexit vote showed. Identity, like nature, has a habit of turning on those who ignore it.

A second quibble is Pikettys overuse of counter-factual history. The transparent object of this strategy is to show that at no switch point in the past has an inequalitarian outcome been inevitable. The history of what might have been protects us from the error of determinism the belief that whatever is had to happen. The trap, though, into which Piketty often falls, is a failure to distinguish feasible alternative futures from fanciful ones.

The first world war might have been avoided had the balance of forces been modestly different, but Pikettys belief that the French Revolution represented a missed opportunity to establish a system of progressive taxation is fanciful: as he himself admits, it would have required a change of mentalities, which came only 100 years later. Piketty might have heeded Marx on this: Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please, but under circumstances given and transmitted from the past.

Third, Piketty fails, it seems to me, in his heroic attempt to generalise his theme by including the property trajectories of non-European societies. His basic idea is that the forced incorporation of overseas colonies into the European property system had the double effect of increasing the concentration of wealth in the metropoles and foisting highly unequal property regimes on the conquered countries, which stifled social transformation. Much of this is quite plausible. But on the way, Piketty uncritically embraces two highly disputable tenets of post-colonial history: that Europes industrial revolution was financed by the profits of slavery, and that Europes intrusion into the affairs of the great civilisations of India and China was an important cause of their economic retardation. A bit of counter-factual history would have been a useful counter to these arguments.

Fourth, Piketty fails to provide a convincing explanation for the collapse of the social democratic regime in the 1970s. The accepted view, that it ran into an inflationary crisis, seems to me to be broadly right. He gives much more weight to its failure to deliver on its promise of equal educational opportunities. The parties of the left increasingly attracted the support of university educated professionals,who were more concerned to maintain their improved position on the property ladder than to widen educational opportunities for the bottom 50 per cent. Thus the meritocratic promise was dimmed, weakening the appeal of the left to the left-behinds. There is again something in this. But the dates dont work out, and one is aware of Piketty laundering the facts to fit his theory.

My final quibble is that Piketty completely ignores the role of John Maynard Keynes in developing the social democratic alternative to both communism and fascism in the interwar years. Perhaps this is due to the French perception of Keynes as anti-French, dating back to his attack on the Treaty of Versailles. More charitably, Keynes cannot be slotted easily into Pikettys historical plot. Keynes wrote in 1936: The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes.

Pikettys story of social democracy is told entirely in terms of its impact on inequality. He fails to mention its impact on employment. In general, he underplays the role of the Great Depression and indeed the historic specificity of the social democratic epoch, in which the problem of unemployment and social security was much more important than the question of equality. Since he fails to understand that full employment and progressive taxation formed a single social democratic package, it is not surprising that he ignores the employment consequences of the great financial collapse of 2008 in stirring present discontent, and has nothing to say about job security in his idyllic vision of the future.

In this flawed masterpiece there are, nevertheless, many thoughts and phrases which stay in the mind and can help organise thought about the past and future. I particularly appreciated Pikettys conceit that western politics is now split between a Brahmin Left and a Merchant Right, leaving the least advantaged out in the cold. Decent politics must find a way of re-engaging with them.

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What makes Thomas Piketty so sure he can save the world? - Spectator.co.uk

Coronavirus and Our Existential Threats This Presidential Season – Common Dreams

Pandemics, climate change and presidential vision have significant consequences for the future as we address our existential threats. There are stark differences being presented in our current presidential campaign from incremental movement forward to bold proposals necessary to address the scope of the problems we face in an interconnected world.

The Covid-19 pandemic challenging our nation and world is simply the latest crisis and certainly not the last. Following prior coronavirus outbreaks of SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012 this represents simply the latest global health threat that comes at the interface of human health, animal health and the environment. This evolving crisis currently in its early stages will take months before its ultimate impact on our world is known. We find ourselves woefully behind as we react to the daily exponential spread of this virus that knows no sexual, racial, economic, temperate, political or geographic boundaries, racing to get ahead of its scourge. Certainly the most vulnerable among us including elderly, poor and those with preexisting conditions are the ones most at risk. I will not even attempt to cover the potential shortage of hospital and critical care beds the nation faces, most of which are filled at any given time even before the pandemic, let alone ventilators for mechanical ventilation should this crisis reach its full potential.

In the U.S. those who survive the current pandemic will be left to rely on our existing healthcare system. Our current patchwork of piecemeal health coverage leaves people to gamble with the outcomes of their diagnoses and their economic future.

Many are losing their jobs as a result of this crisis. How many of them will lose their health insurance as well? And how many will be left bankrupt from this illness or any other health crisis?The reality is that all of us may find ourselves one illness or injury or job loss away from bankruptcy. Four in five Americans who have suffered bankruptcy due to medical bills and illness had health insurance when they became ill.So in addition to being a health crisis, we find ourselves in an economic crisis as well, without sick leave, a living wage and income guarantees during our time of need.And when this pandemic passes, without systemic change there will remain 90 million or more with the resultant job losses in this country who have either no insurance or who are under insured. And we will return to the reality that approximately 70,000 people die in this country each year prematurely due to lack of health insurance.

We must recognize the interconnectedness of the health of our nation and planet to the economic security of our citizens. Unless we make the connection, our future is in doubt.

For the cynics in our nation, it should now be obvious that it is in our own self-interest to want everyone in our community to be healthy to protect ourselves. As a community, nation and world we are, in the words of Senator Sanders, only as safe as our least insured person.

What is called for is a systemic shift from a reactive response to a prospective approach to health with universal healthcare that covers every American Medicare for All, integrated with a fully funded public health and global pandemic planning office as we prepare for the next inevitable pandemic.And rest assured, there will be another and another pandemic as our world responds to the Anthropocene. In the end, this is not a political choice, it is a survival choice. Yet we have allowed all medical choices to become political choices in how we choose to allocate our treasure in taking care of the most vulnerable.


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The global crisis of climate change demands an equally bold action and is also presenting a health crisis around the world that effects every medical specialty and organ system on a daily basis. It especially effects women, most notably pregnant women and women of childbearing age, children and the elderly. The last five years have been the hottest five years on record. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report identifies that we have from 8 to 10 years to dramatically alter our use of fossil fuels to curtail catastrophic climate change averting disastrous outcomes. In the United States, the Green New Deal sets forth the necessary aggressive campaign that we must undertake in order to avert such calamity moving to a carbon free economy by 2050. Only one candidate understands the gravity of the situation and is willing to take on the root cause of the problem while putting into place the solutions necessary to match the change in course that the scientists tell us is necessary.

Rather than address the severity and urgency of the problems we face, an attempt to protect the economics of the fossil fuel industry and confuse and frighten those less versed in the crisis, the response has been framed as posing a revolution versus incremental progress.This attitude was seen in previous bold societal initiatives such as ending slavery and giving women the right to vote labeled as radical ideas that needed to wait their time in history rather than recognizing the sentinel moment in history that each of these challenges represented to our nation and world.

Finally, the ultimate existential threat is the threat of nuclear war. Interestingly, the existential threats of climate change and associated pandemics are not disconnected from nuclear risks and war as each one results in conflict from resource depletion to global economic crises. When these crises bring nuclear nations into conflict, nuclear war is an option. As a physician dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of nuclear war, I must state that there is no effective medical or public health response to nuclear war, no matter how small and prevention is the only response. Even a suitcase nuclear device detonated in one of our major metropolitan areas would overwhelm our entire national health and critical care system. Such a device in a city like Los Angeles would cause tens of thousands of severe burns requiring round the clock intensive burn bed care, yet the entire U.S. has less than 2,000 burn beds. Any nuclear war, by intent, accident, or cyber-attack would be far worse potentially ending civilization. The only way to prevent this scenario is by the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Such a global movement banning nuclear weapons is underway around the world as nations are ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Senator Sanders has said time and time again, Maybe instead of spending $1.8 trillion a year globally on weapons of destruction money to kill each other, maybe we pool our resources and fight our common enemy, which is climate change.

Thesebold ideas throughout history have been criticized as being too much too soon. The same is being said of the current proposals to provide universal healthcare through a Medicare for All program or boldly addressing the climate threats taking on a global leadership role through the Green New Deal while guaranteeing the economic wellbeing and safety of our people, and yes abolishing nuclear weapons, when in reality the future generation may decry we did too little too late.

This is indeed a sentinel moment in our world.The status quo is not acceptable. We must recognize the interconnectedness of the health of our nation and planet to the economic security of our citizens. Unless we make the connection, our future is in doubt. We must wake up to the reality that we are one human family and this is not about one man or one idea. This movement is real and it is unstoppable. If there ARE future generations, when your childrens children look back and ask, when the planet was threatened, what did you do? What will you say? Its about us, ALL of US! #NotMeUs

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Coronavirus and Our Existential Threats This Presidential Season - Common Dreams

Transfers from Bank to Bank to 100 thousand roubles per month will be free – The KXAN 36 News

When exceeding this threshold, the Commission is limited by the threshold of 0.5% of the transfer amount, but not more than 1.5 thousand rubles. This decision was taken by the Bank of Russia in the package of measures related to the spread of coronavirus infection and the fall in oil prices.

We conducted an analysis of transfers in the System of quick payments, as well as the level of average salaries in different regions. He showed that 100 thousand is the average value, which covers the needs of citizens to freely carry out operations in the SBP, told RG the representative of Bank of Russia. First of all it will allow no Commission to transfer funds to relatives and friends in case of their isolation or inability to transfer cash. And in the current environment is vital. In addition, it will allow you to transfer funds in repayment of loans (if the accounts are in different banks), and carry out other transfers between banks, for example, to translate the salary in a convenient Bank, thereby avoiding wage slavery.

the Central Bank launched a System of quick payments are at the beginning of last year as a cheap and convenient alternative to card transfers. ID is the phone number of the addressee of payment, regardless of which Bank party account is opened.

the Decision of the Central Bank guarantees the free transfer average salaries in a convenient Bank, thereby avoiding wage slavery

Previously the Bank of Russia has allowed only the introduction of a ceiling for client commissions for transfers in your system, if it appears that banks will install them on the defensive level, that is, if they were comparable to the fees for card transfers. These commissions completing customer within one Bank, and this dependence typically begins with the selection of RAborodale salary project, which does not account for the individual interests of worker (size of kesbeke on the map, the usability of the app, bonuses for services a subsidiary of the broker and so on). It is possible to say about the change of the salary in Bank accounts, but in practice this right is not just to implement and not many people use it.

the Bank of Russia planned to destroy the roots of wage slavery, giving the employee the opportunity to transfer to the accounting Department only phone number, so that the salary came into the Bank and to the account which is selected to receive transfers through the System of quick payments. But this project is complicated by the fact that you need to eliminate the risks associated with the loss of phone or change numbers. In addition, CBP has not yet implemented the possibility of payments from legal entities to individuals. In any case, the zero commissions for the manual transfer Moscow wage mitigates the problem.

the Majority who joined SBP banks do not charge for transfers of natural persons, including because earlier, the Bank of Russia took a decision to do such operations free for banks from April 1 (or more than two years). However, the market waited to see what the Commission will introduce a savings Bank (as reported, he should join SBP in early April). Sberbank, to build the largest system of transfers from card to card on the telephone for six months delayed the implementation of the requirements of the Bank of Russia on accession to SBP systemically important banks.

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Transfers from Bank to Bank to 100 thousand roubles per month will be free - The KXAN 36 News

Shaheen Baghs of India Women lead the struggle! – Workers World

The IWWD celebration in Boston, March 7.

The socialist origins of International Working Womens Day were celebrated March 7 by the Boston International Action Center and the local branch of Workers World Party. A powerful program saluted both the key role of student activists in the Sanders movement in the U.S. and the courageous women-led uprising in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi, India, against repression and anti-Muslim laws in that country.

Women freedom fighters, past and present

WWP youth activist and Team Solidarity singer Kristin Turgeon greeted the crowd with a trilogy of songs dedicated to women freedom fighters. She honored General Harriet Tubman, leader of the Underground Railroad, who struck countless blows against slavery and freed hundreds of enslaved African people; Puerto Rican Independence fighter Lolita Lebron who opposed U.S. colonialism and was imprisoned for 25 years for her actions; and all working-class women. Turgeon closed her set with a rousing rendition of the Union Maid refrain: Im sticking to the union until the day I die.

Turgeon then shared a brief history of IWWD, born through the life and death struggle of women garment workers in New York City in the early 1900s. She paid tribute to women in unions who are still militantly striking over a hundred years later for better pay, health care benefits, protection from sexual harassment and winning. She also saluted Indigenous women and Two-Spirited people on the front lines to protect their land, water and national sovereignty rights from murderous energy companies, polluters and perpetrators of violence.

Turgeon concluded: This is a period of change for the entire working class worldwide. What better time than now to fight for housing, food, jobs, quality education and universal health care for all? The revolutionary struggles of women from India to Palestine and Africa to Latin America and Asia will hasten the changes we are fighting for here in the U.S. Lets take this opportunity to build a strong and united socialist movement that can fight for the liberation of the entire working class and self-determination for all oppressed people!

From Sanders campaign into socialist action

Akilah DeCoteau, a student at Northeastern University and organizer with Huskies for Bernie, shared why she became involved in the Sanders campaign: I was attracted to Sanders message when he asked, Why do we spend more than the next seven countries combined on the military? Why are we the only industrialized country that doesnt guarantee health care to all its citizens? I wondered why, too!

Decoteau continued: Sanders stated it was time to get corporate influence out of politics, it was time for us to take on the military-industrial complex, the for-profit health care industry, and to start investing in people, instead of bailing out Wall Street. I couldnt have agreed more!

She continued, Today, there are tens of thousands of supporters like myself who have realized it is possible to rally, march and organize for the changes we need. Since the start of the campaign, Ive been organizing with local socialist groups for the first time, and I will continue mobilizing with these organizations to fight for these issues. This presidential campaign has exposed how the government and media have failed us. More people are losing trust in the two-party system and we will see an exponential growth in leftist organizations. No matter what happens with the Sanders campaign, this is just the beginning! We will seize the moment!

Shaheen Bagh: Women resist

Shaheen Bagh protest in India.

After a panel of young women spoke, Padma and Pratyush came forward members of the Boston Coalition whose goals are to work in solidarity with activists in South Asia on justice and peace. They gave a detailed account of events that birthed the Shaheen Bagh uprising in India, which has sparked mass resistance across the country and inspired women, working-class and justice-loving people everywhere.

The movement began on the evening of Dec. 15, 2019, when 15 to 20 women, many in hijabs, left their homes and took to the streets in their Muslim-majority neighborhood of Shaheen Bagh. They occupied a major highway that led north to Indias capital of New Delhi. Word quickly spread of their sit-down strike and more women joined. Many were mothers and grandmothers protesting for the first time.

What sparked their protest? News of a vicious attack by Indian police at the nearby Jamia Millia University, where students were beaten, tear-gassed and shot with live bullets. Scores were arrested and the school ransacked.

The students had been preparing for a march on the capital to protest repressive and discriminatory changes in Indias citizenship laws, specifically aimed at Muslims, passed by its Parliament on Dec. 11. The National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Population Register (NPR) were laws sponsored by the right-wing, Hindu-fundamentalist government of President Narendra Modi.

The shocking violence inflicted on students, combined with the passage of discriminatory citizenship laws, was the spark that lit the fuse of the Shaheen Bagh womens righteous resistance.

Pratyush explained: In addition to targeting Muslims, these citizenship initiatives are a mechanism for persecuting poor landless peasants and migratory workers as well. There are several hundred million people in India, who as migrant workers especially Dalits [previously known as untouchables] and Indigenous have no documents and [would] become illegal and stateless. Thus, they can be forced into detention centers for super-exploitation.

Pratyush continued: The idea of citizenship has colonial roots now people living in South Asia for thousands of years are suddenly illegal. In the northeastern state of Assam in India, where the National Register of Citizens was first implemented, the problem started with the forced migration of people during the British colonial occupation. This is a project of genocide in language and deed, with parallels to the historical violence and murder of im/migrants, communists and Jewish people.

Padma opened her talk by thanking the IAC and WWP for their consistent anti-imperialist work and their many decades of solidarity with poor and oppressed peoples around the world. She went on to describe the difficult conditions faced by women in India where the maternal mortality rate is 174 women per 100,000 live births. Women are denied many basic rights, including access to maternity care and day care. A crime against women occurs every three minutes in India, with Dalit women facing even higher rates of violence. Living in a patriarchal country, most women have the added burden of no state or property papers in their own name.

Padma shared: In the Shaheen Bagh [protests], women of all ages, from 9 to 90, have come together to resist the Indian governments repressive citizenship laws. The majority of women are homemakers and seamstresses who do odd jobs to support their children and families. They have refused to go home, stating, We eat, sleep and live on the road.

Padma emphasized: Women are leading the fight to force the Modi government to repeal the CAA and NRC, which threaten the rights of the most vulnerable in society, including Muslims, poor women, oppressed castes and LGBTQ2+ people. People are now using the constitution and Indian flag to tell the fascists, Dont take away our rights given to us! People of Muslim faith who fought the British are refusing to be criminalized and marginalized. Popular chants at the Shaheen Bagh protests include: Speak up, we are all one! Inquilab zindabad! Long live revolution! Long live love!

She continued: Today there is growing unity among the people across religious and caste lines, with Dalits helping Muslims, while Kashmir is viewed as the Palestine of India. Bold and beautiful murals dedicated to the women of Shaheen Bagh evoke the struggles of women in South Africa and Palestine fighting racist apartheid settlers and passbook laws. The Chilean feminist anthem, Un violador en tu camino/A rapist in your path, has been translated by women and LGBTQ2+ people in India who are performing the song at protests, making it clear that the patriarchy are the rapists and they are the people responsible for the extreme violence against women.

Fighting spirit of women

Padma also recognized the All India General Strike of 250 million workers on Jan. 8, the largest in world history, when workers pressed demands for increases in the minimum wage, unemployment and social security benefits. The strikers also demanded, Repeal the CAA Now!

On Feb. 23, as more and more women joined the protests, the Modi government orchestrated a bloody, anti-Muslim pogrom. Police, backed up by hundreds of armed men, entered Delhi, killing over 50 people and destroying thousands of homes, businesses, communal spaces and mosques.

Immediately after the violence, reminiscent of Kristallnacht (1938) and Nazi pograms against Jewish people in Germany, Modi met with visiting U.S. president Trump. As these fascistic leaders patted each other on the back, they also signed new military deals aimed at encircling China.

The panelists showed video clips of the Shaheen Bagh protests and marches led by women, LGBTQ2+ people and youth in cities from Kolkata and Mumbai to London and Toronto. Pratyush shared a poem dedicated to the workers of India and women of Shaheen Bagh. A lively discussion ensued, including about three recent city council resolutions passed in Seattle, Albany, N.Y., and Cambridge, Mass., demanding repeal of the NRC, CAA and NPR. Plans to pursue a similar resolution from the Boston City Council were discussed.

Padma closed the meeting: The many Shaheen Baghs in India are a testament to the fighting spirit of women largely of Muslim faith who have galvanized other communities to join them in demanding Modis government repeal the discriminatory CAA act. People from all walks of life who have joined these brave women are demanding the right to dignity, to security of life, and an end to caste-, gender- and religion-based violence. Long live the Shaheen Baghs! Long live workers unity! The struggle will continue!

On March 24, the government lockdown of New Delhi to check COVID-19 was used as an excuse for the Modi government to send police to shut down Shaheen Bagh in the dawn hours and clear the site of all those who had been protesting the discriminatory citizenship laws for over 100 days. (hindu.com)

(WWP photo: WWP Boston)

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Shaheen Baghs of India Women lead the struggle! - Workers World

MIT Economist on Coronavirus: Young People Going to Get Squashed – The MIT Press Reader

The younger generation, already saddled with student debt and uncertain jobs, will pay a high price as the crisis unfolds.

Economist and economic historian Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT and author of The Vanishing Middle Class, has described America using a powerful dual economy model first created by West Indian economist and Nobel laureate W. Arthur Lewis. Common in developing countries, dual economies feature a splitting into two separate sectors where peoples lives are vastly different. As Temin sees it, the U.S. now features an affluent sector, about 20 percent of the population, where people have stable lives and good jobs and an increasingly separate, low-wage sector, roughly 80 percent, where people struggle to get by and find fewer and fewer ways to improve their lot. In a conversation with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), Temin explains what the COVID-19 pandemic reveals about this system, who is most economically at risk, and what it will take to fix things.

Lynn Parramore: As the pandemic takes hold, whats your sense of who is most vulnerable? How does the crisis illustrate the changes brought about by a movement to a dual economy?

Peter Temin: Unfortunately, the current administration is not concerned about people in the low-wage sector, and under it, the rate at which the middle class is vanishing has been increasing rapidly. The rich have gotten richer: As economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman have pointed out, our taxes have become regressive since the 2017 tax cut. And, of course, now Trump wants to aid his friends who are rich and so he wants to bail out the airlines.

Kids who are working in the gig economy are going to getsquashed down with fewer and fewer opportunities. A lot of them haveeducational debts. Trumps statements about helping them is really justgarbage. If he truly wanted to help, he could fire [Education Secretary] BetsyDeVos. Failing that, he ought to get her or the department to go after theprivate universities those who have tricked the young people trying to getahead and cancel those debts. Thats what the Obama people tried to do andthen it was reversed by Trump in his effort to get rid of everything that Obamaever did.

Young people are very vulnerable, especially those who have not been able to find a steady job and get ahead. Their education has been compromised because teachers have been ill-paid for many years.

Young people are very vulnerable, especially those whohave not been able to find a steady job and get ahead. Their education has beencompromised because teachers have been ill-paid for many years. Teachers workvery hard and are very dedicated I dont criticize the teachers themselves but the low pay makes many people who might be innovating and using recentknowledge to help kids learn often go off and become lawyers and other thingsnow. This sacrificing of the long-run aims of the country has been going onsince the 1970s. Education used to be our very strong suit but now werefalling behind other countries.

LP: The need for social distancing from COVID-19 is forcing many students across the U.S. into online learning. Some view the push for online learning in recent years as a scheme by political groups who dont support robust public education to devalue the teaching profession (as well as an opportunity for tech companies to cash in). Whats your take?

PT: The push towards more online learning is a really bad idea. The poorest people lack access, so it condemns them to staying poor. It doesnt provide any way out. Think of the economist Roland Fryer [the youngest African American to ever receive tenure at Harvard] who got rescued from poverty when he got a football scholarship to the University of Texas. Somebody recognized how bright he was, and he then went to Harvard and won the Clark medal for the best economist under 40, and so on.

The push towards more online learning is a really bad idea. The poorest people lack access, so it condemns them to staying poor.

If online learning becomes normalized, people like thatwont make it out. They wont ever get started. They wont be in a place wheresomebody can recognize their talent and can take them on. Learning takes placepartly by the psychological bonding of kids with teachers. Thats why teachersare so important. Very poor people have parents who dont have jobs andsometimes only one parent or no parent, so this kind of connection to an adultbecomes all the more essential. If you just look at a machine that asks howmuch is 2 + 2, check the box, that isnt anything compared to a teacher saying,have you thought of this or that? For kids with stable households and parents,it might work, but not for poor people. It jeopardizes the future of Americabecause we need to have all of our young people thinking about things andgetting into the world, able to pursue a good idea. People love to talk about theorigins of our very rich entrepreneurs. Those are the people who made it, butyou wouldnt have been able to predict that when they were four years old. Theonly way to catch the talent is to give everybody a chance. Not just the peopleyou know, but all sorts of people. Ability is distributed throughout thepopulation.

For all these reasons, the education part of this is justterribly important. Each time theres a financial crisis, the support for statecolleges goes down. Most of them are now state universities in name only, withjust around 15% of their budget coming from the state. When we think aboutonline learning we may think of grade-school kids, but it makes it difficultfor them to go further, too. With online learning, you never see a book. Youmay just see shorter piece, ten-page essays and so on. You dont get that deepunderstanding that comes from reading books.

LP: This pandemic is also shining a light on Americas incarceration practices, which youve cited as a driver of the dual economy. Could the crisis help us come to terms with how out of step we are with the rest of the world in locking up so many people? Especially vulnerable populations?

PT: Americas incarceration practices are different because we had slavery. [Economics reporter] Eduardo Porter has a book coming out on this, and Im writing about it, too. This is a very hard thing, and were going to have to fix mass incarceration in order to fix urban education, which is education for the poor. But the federal government is not interested in this at all. Trump is not interested. There are district attorneys who are refusing to prosecute for non-violent offenses and reform the bail system and all the things that have built up over the course of the last half century. But whats happened is that there are a lot of vested interests, like private prisons, that want more, not fewer prisoners. So, you have to combat that. Privatization is a problem with incarceration. Youll notice in the present crisis, Trump went to private suppliers to get tests for the virus. Has he gotten them? No. He didnt go to them because they were efficient or had a secret. He wants to privatize everything.

Weve gotten ourselves into a very bad position in the U.S. and its really punishing us right now. A dual economy makes it much harder to deal with a crisis like the coronavirus.

The problem we face in confronting mass incarceration isthat we are a very diverse country. Things look very different in differentparts of the country. Areas in the South that have Evangelicals are differentfrom areas in the northeast, for example. They want to criminalize abortion,and put more, not fewer, people in prison. San Francisco may not be arrestingas many people during the pandemic, but that doesnt mean that youll see the sametrend everywhere. Prisoners are actually included in the census where theprison is, so having that tends to emphasize the votes of rural people. Thatssimilar to the old three-fifths rule in the South [counting three out of everyfive slaves as people in apportioning representatives, etc.] which emphasizedthe votes of slave-owning people before the Civil War.

LP: What kinds of responses to the COVID-19 crisis would help us move beyond the dual economy structure and create more unity between the affluent and low-wage sectors?

PT: It is critical to send money, one way or another, to the low-wage and poor people who need the money to live on and will spend it. That will get things going. We also need to increase funding for early education. Thats what the New York City superintendent has been trying to do. And that brings us back to teachers because early education cant be done on the computer.

Fundamentally, we will also have to change the tax structure. Weve gotten ourselves into a very bad position in the U.S. and its really punishing us right now. A dual economy makes it much harder to deal with a crisis like the coronavirus. People in the upper part need to pay for things for the low-wage part to recover, and of course the government needs to be involved, but there are these pro-austerity people who dont want the government to do anything. They want it all to be the private sector, and that misses the fact that very young kids dont get noticed when you leave everything to the private sector because young children dont buy things. They get lost. Then they end up in prison. The cycle repeats itself over and over. The more diverse the incomes are, the harder it is to make the changes you need. Just as the kids need good teachers, we need to have some leaders who will think about these things. Trump is all concerned with how things go on the evening news, the short-time horizon. What we need is somebody who can look ahead, to ask where are we going? What are we going to be in 20 years, 40 years, 60 years? On the current path, we are becoming Argentina, a place which is very nice for the people who live in the cities and have a lot of money, and pretty terrible for everybody else.

Lynn Parramore is Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

This article was first published on the blog of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, a nonprofit that seeks to promote changes to our current economic system and support new paradigms in the understanding of economic processes.

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MIT Economist on Coronavirus: Young People Going to Get Squashed - The MIT Press Reader

Chinese worker writes on the coronavirus pandemic: Disaffection is growing among the masses – World Socialist Web Site

By a correspondent 23 March 2020

A correspondent in China sent the following notes on the rising political and class tensions in that country produced by the worsening global COVID-19 pandemic and the repressive response of the Beijing regime.

1. Chinas authoritarian government has blocked every city and even every street by brutal means. Every aspect of peoples lives has been affected. Not only are there travel restrictions. Daily supplies have suffered shortages, and the economy has been greatly affected. While emergency measures were needed to combat the pandemic, they were applied repressively, to defend the interests of the capitalists. Dissatisfaction is growing among the masses.

To curb this dissatisfaction, the Chinese bureaucrats strengthened social controls and waged war on public opinion. The newly-issued Internet Information Governance Regulations came into effect in March. They strengthened the governments control over the media and the internet, and further suppressed the revolution of public opinion. They clearly stipulate that network information content producers must not produce, copy or publish content containing illegal information, including opposing basic principles of the Constitution, endangering national security, leaking state secrets, subverting state power and harming national interests.

2. At the same time, Wuhan bureaucrats demanded that people express their gratitude for the governments response to the epidemic and even forced various institutions and schools to implement grateful education. This was met with popular opposition and dissatisfaction. An article circulated on the internet: If you have a conscience, you will not ask the frightened Wuhan people to be grateful at this time.(). In this article, the author wrote: You are the public servant of the people, and your job is to serve the people. Now the peoples family you serve is ruined, the dead have just passed away and the tears of the living have not been wiped out. Sick people are unhealed and some of their dissatisfaction is completely reasonable. You should reflect and be ashamed because you and your team are not working properly, rather than accuse the people you serve in Wuhan of not being grateful. This article has now been restricted from spreading on the internet.

3. A nursery rhyme has been criticized and resisted by people. The song, Mobile cabin hospitals are so amazing(), is considered a tribute to the government, ignoring the suffering caused by the plague and government failure. Some people described this as dancing at a funeral and some netizens commented: I cant agree with such publicity, the epidemic is not over, the responsibility has not been identified and there is nothing to praise. Mobile cabin hospitals are medical isolation units set up by requisitioning existing facilities due to the coronavirus outbreaks and insufficient medical resources.

4. During the closure of the cities the government arrested those with different opinions. Three citizen journalists lost contact. The Chinese government did not announce their whereabouts, but a video uploaded by one of the citizen journalists showed him being arrested by police. These bloggers expose the real situation of the epidemic and the real living conditions of the people by uploading videos they have taken. This is not the first time they have said they have been threatened by the government and police:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np8ZOQATLGY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWrMZH9Xu6k

5. Due to the impact of the epidemic and the governments city closure policy, economic activities have been greatly impacted and small businesses and shops are under great pressure. Because of Chinas economic failure in recent years and the sudden outbreak of the epidemic, protests by shop owners asking for rent reductions have been held in many cities:

6. The Chinese government regarded the two hospitals built in the short term during the outbreak as government achievements, but the workers who built the two hospitals encountered difficulties. There are news reports that during the outbreak, workers were overloaded, but wage arrears and wage deductions often occurred. At the same time, after the completion of the construction, due to the closure of the city, the workers were not allowed to return home. The high cost of living and lost source of income put the workers in trouble, but companies and the Wuhan government were unwilling to assist with the workers living problems.

7. Residents have protested across Hubei province that the cost of living and food prices have become unacceptable. A reporter exposed that the food donated to Hubei from various places was put in a warehouse and rotted and was not sent to the residents homes. There are also news reports that the local government uses garbage trucks to deliver food to residents:

8. On March 17, about a thousand Foxconn workers who had returned to work started protesting and striking because they could not get the promised subsidy. These workers are reportedly dispatch workers at Foxconn. The labour dispatching system is a common method of undermining labour rights in Chinese companies. Many workers dub it the slavery dispatch system:

This is just a typical example of recent strikes by Chinese workers to defend their rights. Similar incidents have occurred in many cities. Although the Chinese government claims that they have basically controlled the corona virus outbreak, conflicts have gradually erupted as workers return to work.

The economic failure caused during the epidemic will prompt the bourgeoisie to intensify its exploitation of the working class. The working class has made huge sacrifices in the fight against the epidemic. The epidemic has increased the pressure on their lives, and made workers want a more resolute voice for labour rights. Therefore, when workers return to work, the backlog of dissatisfaction will push workers to fight the bourgeoisie and inequality. Already we can see that when the city lockdown policy was gradually cancelled, the workers movement began to reappear in various cities.


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Chinese worker writes on the coronavirus pandemic: Disaffection is growing among the masses - World Socialist Web Site

‘Modern slaves’ lived in cramped conditions and had wages withheld – Manchester Evening News

A Warrington couple have been jailed for modern slavery offences after police discovered two Lithuanians living in horrific conditions in their family home.

Police said the couple witheld wages from the pair, who had undertaken household jobs for the couple and worked for Warrington businesses, and made them live in 'cramped' conditions.

One of their victims lived in a cupboard under the stairs, while the other slept on their sofa.

Robertas Repsas and Rita Jablonskaite, of Westland Drive, were sent to jail for a combined total of three years and seven months after pleading guilty to human trafficking and modern slavery charges.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how both victims lived with depressions and had little to eat while living in the house.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, their first victim, a 50-year-old man, said:I lived there under constant stress and ongoing depression, anxiety and constantly thinking what I should do next what actions I should take. These thoughts used to drive me crazy.

I was full of anxiety and yet I could not share my thoughts with anybody as I was alone and was completely isolated from other people.

The court heard that he lost nearly 20 kilograms in weight while living with the couple.

Their second victim, a 51-year-old woman, said:While I was living in Ritas house I felt very bad. I was treated as worthless and was very insulted.

I felt particularly bad when I had nothing to eat after I cooked for the family there. I remember how many times I cried because of hunger and the insults.

I was always in a very bad mood and always sad.

Police were alerted to the couple's crimes when their first victim accessed a phone while working at a recycling firm and contacted a friend.

Officers from Cheshire Police discovered that the man had been living with Repsas, 31, and Jablonskaite, 34, for nine months after being trafficked from his native Lithuania.

He began doing housework, gardening and running errands for them before working for Jablonskaites cleaning company and later for a Warrington-based recruitment agency.

Repsas and Jablonskaite refused to let the man access his own wages, which were around 400 a week, and even applied for loans in his name.

The man, who spoke very little English, lived in highly cramped conditions with no ventilation or a window, according to police.

Officers visited the victim during a shift at the recycling company before speaking to him, via an interpreter, at Widnes Police Station.

He had an unkempt appearance, did not own his own clothing and was wearing tracksuit bottoms that did not fit him, police said.

Police raided the house he had been living at in March 2018 and the couple were arrested before being released pending further enquiries.

The couple's second victim, who had also been trafficked from Lithuania, was found by police at their home just a few months later.

She had been living on the couples sofa for several weeks as their housekeeper and live-in nanny, and also did work for Jablonskaites cleaning company.

Despite being promised a weekly wage, the victim received no money from the couple, who also promised to keep her mobile phone topped up so she could contact her family, which they did not.

Police said that although the couple did feed their victims, the woman said she only ever ate at lunchtime. They also had their ID cards confiscated by the couple and were not allowed a key to their home.

A court heard that both victims felt as though they could not leave the couples home without permission.

Repsas and Jablonskaite were both charged with holding a person in slavery or servitude and requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Repsas was also charged with human trafficking, while Jablonskaite was charged with three counts of that offence.

Repsas was jailed for one year and three months and Jablonskaite was handed a prison sentence of two years and four months.

A seven-year slavery and trafficking prevention order was also imposed on the pair.

Detective Inspector Julie Jackson, of the Hidden Harm Team based at Warrington Police Station, said: The two vulnerable victims in this case were sold on the idea of coming to England to work and earn money whilst living with a family from their homeland.

But they ended up being controlled and exploited by Robertas Repsas and Rita Jablonskaite, working excessive hours and not having any money to show for it.

With them having had their identification taken off them, speaking very little English, being totally dependent on the offenders and having no way of contacting anyone in Lithuania, both victims felt trapped.

Thankfully, the first victim, who was initially living in the offenders attic before having to sleep in a downstairs cupboard when they moved to a different house in Warrington, found a mobile phone whilst at work and used it to report what he was being subjected to, first to a friend and then to the Lithuanian embassy.

Those phone calls paved the way for him, and latterly the second victim, to be safeguarded and for the couple who subjected them to modern slavery to be brought to justice.

The second victim was trafficked, controlled and exploited whilst the couple knew they were being investigated for doing the same to the first victim.

This beggars belief and shows that the couple believed that they were above the law as they took advantage of vulnerable people for financial and domestic gain.

I am delighted that the pair are now behind bars facing the consequences of their actions and I hope this case reassures the community that we take reports of human trafficking and modern slavery extremely seriously.

I also hope that it deters others from committing similar offences.

Cheshires Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane, who has made it his priority to provide greater protection for victims of modern slavery, added:

This case shows the devastating effects modern slavery can have on vulnerable people who naively think they have come to Cheshire to live a better life.

In my role as the publics representative on policing and crime, and through my chairing of Cheshires Criminal Justice Board, I am committed to ensuring that we have a joined up, multi-agency approach to helping provide more support for victims of modern slavery and look to eradicate the crime from our communities.

Initiatives like the Hidden Harm Team are helping us to work with partners to locate victims and trace offenders, but I also encourage members of the community to look out for the tell-tale signs of modern slavery and report any suspicions to the police.

Originally posted here:

'Modern slaves' lived in cramped conditions and had wages withheld - Manchester Evening News

Couple jailed for trafficking people into the UK and using them as slaves – The Chester Standard

A CHESHIRE couple have been jailed for trafficking people into the UK and using them as slaves.

Robertas Repsas and Rita Jablonskaite made one of their two victims sleep in a tiny cupboard under the stairs.

The 50-year-old man, who spoke very little English, lived with the couple for nine months after being trafficked from their native Lithuania, originally doing housework, gardening and running errands for them before working for Jablonskaites cleaning company and later for a Warrington-based recruitment agency.

He was never given access to his wage slips or the money he earned.

Repsas and Jablonskaite had total control over the man and his wages, and they even applied for loans in his name.

Sleeping in highly cramped conditions with no ventilation or a window and having no access to money despite earning an average wage of about 400 a week, the victim flagged up his plight to a friend after finding a mobile phone while working for a recycling company in St Helens.

He then called the Lithuanian embassy, who in turn contacted Cheshire Police.

An investigation was launched and officers visited the victim while he was doing a shift at the recycling company before speaking to him, via an interpreter, at Widnes Police Station.

After finding that he had an unkempt appearance, did not own his own clothing and was wearing tracksuit bottoms that did not fit him, the officers safeguarded the victim before raiding the house in Westland Drive, Warrington, on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

Repsas, 31, and Jablonskaite, 34, were arrested at the address and questioned in custody.

They were subsequently released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Just months later officers had cause to go to the couples home and while there they discovered and safeguarded a second victim.

The 51-year-old woman, who could not speak English, had also been trafficked from Lithuania.

She had been living on the couples sofa for several weeks as their housekeeper and live-in nanny.

She also did work for Jablonskaites company, cleaning peoples flats.

Despite being promised a weekly wage, the victim received no money from the couple.

The couple also reneged on their promise to keep her mobile phone topped up so that she could keep in contact with her family in Lithuania.

She had come to England to live with the couple after being told that she would be able to work and raise money for her family.

Both victims were given access to food while living with the couple, though the woman told officers that she only ate at lunch.

But the couple took their identification off them when they first arrived in Warrington via a private minibus and a ferry from Calais to Dover and never gave them a key to their home.

The court heard that both victims felt as though they could not leave the couples home without permission.

In victim impact statements read out in court, the man, who lost nearly 20 kilograms in weight while living with the couple, said: I lived there under constant stress and ongoing depression, anxiety and constantly thinking what I should do next what actions I should take. These thoughts used to drive me crazy.

I was full of anxiety and yet I could not share my thoughts with anybody as I was alone and was completely isolated from other people.

The woman said: While I was living in Ritas house I felt very bad. I was treated as worthless and was very insulted.

I felt particularly bad when I had nothing to eat after I cooked for the family there. I remember how many times I cried because of hunger and the insults.

I was always in a very bad mood and always sad.

Once Cheshire Police had concluded its investigation into Repsas and Jablonskaites offending, they were both charged with holding a person in slavery or servitude and requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Repsas was also charged with human trafficking.

Jablonskaite was charged with three counts of that offence.

Having originally decided to plead not guilty to all charges, the pair admitted the human trafficking offences part way through a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

The prosecution accepted the pleas on the agreement that the other charges would be taken into account upon sentencing, which took place on Tuesday.

Repsas was jailed for one year and three months and Jablonskaite was handed a prison sentence of two years and four months.

A seven-year slavery and trafficking prevention order was also imposed on the pair.

Detective Inspector Julie Jackson, of the Hidden Harm Team based at Warrington Police Station, said: The two vulnerable victims in this case were sold on the idea of coming to England to work and earn money whilst living with a family from their homeland.

But they ended up being controlled and exploited by Robertas Repsas and Rita Jablonskaite, working excessive hours and not having any money to show for it."

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Couple jailed for trafficking people into the UK and using them as slaves - The Chester Standard

Ken Loach grinds another honest man under the cruel gears of society in Sorry We Missed You – The A.V. Club

You dont work for us, you work with us. Thats the pitch Maloney (Ross Brewster) makes for the exciting new job opportunity he dangles in the opening scene of Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loachs latest lament for the downtrodden masses. Maloney, who has the physique and disposition of your gyms least forgiving trainer, is a supervisor at a package delivery company that independently contracts all its driversits like UPS by way of Uber. What hes selling is the ideal of professional autonomy. Drive your own van! Own your own franchise! Be your own boss! To Ricky Turner (Kris Hitchen), it all sounds like a dream come true. Ricky, after all, has spent his whole life paving, plumbing, roofing, mending, and breaking his back for companies that saw him and his labor as disposable. Its about time he tossed off the shackles of subordination and became, in Maloneys well-chosen words, the master of his destiny.

You dont need to be a used and abused cog of the gig economy to suspect that this grand promise of self-employment is a liethat Rickys delusions of independence and upward mobility will inevitably be shattered. He is, after all, the main character in a Ken Loach movie: honest, industrious, destined to suffer for the sins of a pitiless society. Loach, the biggest beating heart in the English film industry, has spent most of his half-century in movies and television sticking up for the little guy, for the working men and women of his country. In recent years, that noble imperative has consumed all other aspects of his work; the writer-director of gripping classics like Kes and Riff-Raff now makes diatribes pounded into the vague shape of dramanot so much message movies as messages in search of movies. Sorry We Missed You fits cleanly into that agitprop tradition. But for a good long while, anyway, it does offer the kind of involving quotidian texture that Loach excels at when hes not simply steering the steamroller over his characters to make a point about societys ills.


Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor, Ross Brewster

Select theaters March 6

Ricky, as we quickly learn, is head of a household in Newcastle thats been struggling ever since the 2008 financial collapse, which effectively destroyed their plan to buy their own home. To put a deposit on the big white van hell need for his new career, Ricky talks his wife, Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), into selling her cara decision that makes daily life a little trickier for her. Abbie has her own version of flexible zero-hour contract work: She hops all over town to care for the elderly and people with disabilities, picking up clients through an agency that often minimizes her contact with the families (and eats into her paychecks). Ricky and Abbie have two children they barely see because theyre always on the clock. While preteen Liza Jane (Katie Proctor) tries to put on a happy face, even as she absorbs her parents stress like a sponge, 16-year-old Seb (Rhys Stone) acts out, cutting class to go tagging with his friends.

Like any good polemicist, Loach understands empathy as something he has to earn. This early stretch, episodic and carefully observed, successfully bonds us to the plight of the Turners. Theres an economy to the storytelling and a affecting sting to some of the moments the filmmaker singles out, like Liza Jane cleaning up around her slumbering folks or Abbie fighting through her exhaustion to express kindness to an ashamed client. And Loach locates some blessed humor, a tonic for characters and audience alike, in Rickys front-door encounters with his customers, at one point stopping the movie cold for some amusingly heated sparring between rival soccer fans. As usual, the directors assembled a first-rate cast: Hitchen and Honeywood make palpable their characters frustrations, trying to hold onto hope under their occupational and professional demands. The real find may be Stone, who perfectly conveys the pigheaded selfishness of a teenage wiseass, while also communicating what Seb is really rebelling against: the nonstop grind and hustle that awaits him, should he follow the same path as his parents.

Sorry We Missed You is good enough, in other words, to make one wish that Loach knew when to say when. Ricky, his beleaguered hero, has hitched his hopes to a sucker bet: a corporate enterprise that feeds off his labor without sheltering him from risk. Its a system not so radically different from the one the filmmaker decried in his last movie, the Cannes-winning I, Daniel Blake, which depicted one virtuous mans Sisyphean struggle against a health-care industry all but designed to deny him the relief he needs. Working again with longtime collaborator Paul Laverty, who also wrote that didactic downer, Loach again piles onto his working-class protagonists so relentlesslyturning them into everyday martyrs, crushed into fine dust by the grinding wheels of capitalist exploitationthat any genuine poignancy begins to crumble into self-parody. Everything that could go wrong does, and by the time Sorry We Missed You is literally dousing Ricky in piss, you have to wonder if its really society, and not just the screenplay, stacking the deck against the Turners.

Which is a shame, because the film didnt need to force the family through the worse-case wringer to sell its shrewd insights about the mutating injustice of capitalism. Sorry We Missed You sits on a rock-solid foundation of outrage: As Ricky rudely awakens to every reality of his new jobhe cant even bring his daughter along with him on the deliveries because hes still beholden to the rules his corporate partner setswhat hes really coming to terms with is how wage slavery now masquerades as entrepreneurial opportunity. Hes stuck forever on the hamster wheel, a point damningly underlined by the fade-out ellipsis of the films final minutes. Its all the calculated misfortune around those scenes that feels like overkill. Then again, maybe Loach has just picked the right tool for the job. When your lone goal is to violently stir the conscience of a captive audience, a sledgehammer will do just fine.

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Ken Loach grinds another honest man under the cruel gears of society in Sorry We Missed You - The A.V. Club

Chicagos mayor thinks she has a plan to end poverty in a generation – The Economist

The citys changing demographics make Lori Lightfoots job harder

BLACK FAMILIES on Chicagos South and West Sides have long endured joblessness, decrepit housing and violence. Lori Lightfoot, the citys mayor for the past nine months, has made cutting poverty her main goal. Like the rest of the country, the city is doing well on this score: the poverty rate for Afrian-Americans and Hispanics has been creeping down, though that has more to do with low unemployment and decent wage growth than with City Hall.

Ms Lightfoot, who grew up poor in Ohio, speaks personally about privation. Her childhood taught her what hardship and financial struggle was all about. Though her father had three jobs, the family saw cars repossessed and services cut off for unpaid bills. She put herself through college and studied law. Her first summer job paid more than her father had ever earned. She was too embarrassed to tell him.

This sort of story is still common in Chicago. In its public schools 76% of students qualify for free meals because of low incomes. When classes end, many do without nutritious food. Life-expectancy can vary by as much as 15 years between neighbouring areas on the South Side. Ms Lightfoot points out that Cook County, which includes the Windy City, has the highest rate of personal bankruptcies in Illinoisoften because people owe debts to the city.

Ms Lightfoot traces inequalitys roots in America to the original sin of slavery, and blames government for keeping black families down. She cites redlining, a practice of city governments and mortgage-lenders to determine which neighbourhoods African-Americans were allowed to live in, and the de facto segregation of black children at school. A mayor cannot do much about that history, and in any case many of her plans are small-bore. She will start by scrapping city fines and fees that burden the poor especiallyas a small example, libraries no longer charge for overdue books. She wants more rights for tenants and the end of regulations that take away drivers licences for petty infractions, because losing a car often means losing a job.

She promises an extra $750m over the next three years to spruce up roads, parks and public transport in ten corridors running through needy districts. Philanthropists and foundations will be tapped for help. She will also expand a financial model that diverts some capital from firms building offices and skyscrapers downtown to boost small businesses in poor areas. Rahm Emanuel, her predecessor, launched that scheme in 2017 and says it will soon be worth $170m.

One of Ms Lightfoots plans is genuinely radical, however. Citing the outrageous amounts of money that we spend on a criminal-justice infrastructure that is mostly punitiveover $1.7bn a year for policingshe wants to switch spending to social and economic needs. Broken families, poor care for children and overall deprivation are the deepest causes of violent crime, she argues. Spending on mental-health care, she says, could do more to curb crime than paying for lots of arrests.

None of that will be easy. The wealthy voters who swept Ms Lightfoot to office last year could grow jittery if cuts to police are followed by a spike in violent crime. More important, the Chicagoans most affected by violence are the citys poorest residents, whom Ms Lightfoot wants to help. She risks a sour relationship with the police after sacking their superintendent for ethical lapses in December. Her separate plans to tackle corruption leave some long-serving city aldermen uneasy. And her record as a negotiator has yet to be proved after Chicagos teachers won big payouts from her last year, after a lengthy strike.

Ms Lightfoots aspiration to end poverty in a generation has a further glitch. The poverty statistics are skewed by a decades-long collapse in the black population. Since 2010 the city has seen a net loss of 70,000 black residents, who fled to the suburbs, next-door Indiana or southern cities like Atlanta. Part of the decline in poverty simply reflects the fact that there are just fewer poor African-Americans in Chicago now. Yet some of those left behind are too poor to move, making the poverty that remains even more intractable.

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline "Policing poverty"

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Chicagos mayor thinks she has a plan to end poverty in a generation - The Economist

The Long-Term Vision of the Christian Nationalist Movement – Sojourners

There appear to be two ways to interpret the surge of Christian nationalism around Trump. One way is to see this primarily as an extension of the Religious Rights culture war. Another way is to understand the stated culture war, and its hot-button issues like abortion, as merely one piece within a larger and perhaps more sinister project. In The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism , Katherine Stewart argues for the latter, marshalling a synthesis of history and reporting to make her case.

Stewart has been following the Christian nationalist movement for over a decade as an investigative reporter and journalist. Her latest book highlights the way in which this movement is decentralized, consisting of a dense ecosystem of organizations, operatives, and Christian billionaire clans. Instead of collapsing Christian nationalists to single issues like abortion or gay marriage, she claims that it is an anti-democratic political movement with deep roots in a Christian opposition to civil rights, the New Deal, and abolition.

I recently spoke to Stewart about her book. The conversation that follows has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Camacho, Sojourners: You claim that America's Christian nationalist movement has been misunderstood and underestimated. How so?

Katherine Stewart: When we think of the Religious Right, we usually imagine it is just one special interest group in the noisy forum of modern American democracy. We might agree or disagree with its positions. We often see it preoccupied with cultural issues such as abortion or same-sex marriage, but we often just see it as competing within the existing system for votes while looking for a seat at the table. But Christian nationalism does not believe in modern, pluralistic democracy. Its aim is to create a new type of order, one in which Christian nationalist leaders, along with members of certain approved religions and their political allies will enjoy positions of exceptional privilege in politics, law, and society. So, this is a political movement and its goal is ultimately power. It doesn't seek to add another voice to America's pluralistic democracy, but rather to place our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a state grounded in a particular version of religion, and what some adherents call a biblical world view.

I do think it's helpful in looking at the movement to distinguish between the leaders and the followers. The foot soldiers might believe that they're fighting for those cultural issues, like a ban on abortion or a defense of what they call traditional marriage. But over time, the movement's leaders and strategists have consciously reframed these culture war issues to capture and control the votes of a large subsection of the American public. They understand that if people can be persuaded to vote on a single issue, or two or three, you can essentially control their vote by concentrating your messages in this way. They use these issues to solidify and maintain political power for themselves and their allies to increase the flow of public and private money in their direction, and also to enact economic policies that are favorable to some of their most well-resourced funders.

If you look at leaders like Putin in Russia or Orbn in Hungary or Erdoan in Turkey, when they bind themselves closely to religious conservatives in their countries in order to consolidate authoritarian form of power, we rightly identify this as a kind of religious nationalism. That's what we're seeing today with Trump's alliances with hyper-conservative religious leaders in America.

Camacho: You noticed that Christian nationalist leaders are making inroads with non-white Christians, specifically Latino pastors in places like Ohio and California. How does this fit into their overall strategy?

Stewart: The Christian nationalist movement is often characterized as a white movement. I think for some of the people in the rank and file who are white, it is an implicitly white movement because for them it involves recovering a nation that was once supposedly both Christian and white. Leaders of the movement tend to paper over the ways in which white evangelicalism and racism often reinforce one another. Of course, Trump appeals to the racism of many of his followers. But leaders of the movement can see the demographic future as clearly as you or I can. They understand that the electoral future of the movement is not ethnically homogenous. In recent years, they've made a significant outreach to Latino and black pastors. There's an irony that they're being enlisted to fight culture wars that drive support for a political party that has turned voter suppression, race-based gerrymandering, the cruel and inhumane treatment of migrants and separation of families, into a strategic imperative.

I want to give you an idea of what this looks like on the ground. In one chapter, I focused on an organization called Church United, which is a pastoral network operating in California. The founder of the group, Jim Domen, acts on racial inclusiveness in a really systematic way. Many of the fastest growing religious movements in America are in the charismatic and Pentecostal vein. These are often explicitly multiracial movements. Racial unity in Christ is one of the core themes of Church United. They organize gatherings in which the organization is introduced to pastors across the state. The aim is to get them to persuade their congregations to vote for so-called biblical values, which are typically all about the culture war issues like abortion and LGBTQ equality. A substantial number of Church United gatherings are conducted in the Spanish language.

An organization has spun off, one affiliate called Alianza de Pastores Unidos de San Diego. The members minister largely to Spanish-speaking congregations. I went to one of their events. Jim Domen was generous enough to invite me knowing that I was an opposition journalist. One of the speakers who was at this event said to the pastors, I'm going to paraphrase: When you talk to your fellowship about abortion and these issues, what's more important, talking about the minimum wage or about life? The message is very clear: Life is more important. So, these are the issues that you need to be emphasizing with your congregation.

They make it easy for pastors to communicate these issues to their congregants. The movement leaders understand that pastors drive votes and that's why they've made an enormous effort to create these vast pastoral networks that gets pastors on the same page. They give them sophisticated messaging and media tools to turn out the vote.

Camacho: In your book, you make connections between the current Christian nationalist movement and the Christian opposition to civil rights and the New Deal and Christian debates over the Civil War and abolition before that. Some might consider that to be a stretch and they might cite figures like William Wilberforce. So, I'm in interested in why you decided to make this broad historical link.

Stewart: I do discuss the contributions of maybe a dozen abolitionist theologians in my book, including Wilberforce. It is important to note, however, that at the time of the Civil War, most of the powerful denominations in the South had either promoted slavery or had at least made their peace with it. Pro-slavery theologians consciously refrained from making any judgment to upset the established order or they supported it outright. For instance, the Georgia Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church said that slavery as it exists in the United States was not a moral evil. Episcopalians of South Carolina found slavery to be "marked by every evidence of divine approval." The Charleston Union Presbytery resolved that the holding of slaves, so far from being a sin in the sight of God, is nowhere condemned in his holy word. I think a lot of people don't realize that many representatives of the churches of the North were in agreement.

Yes, folks like Wilberforce and Charles Denison argued for abolitionism, and they did so in the name of religion. But Frederick Douglass observed at the time that these religious abolitionists tended to be a distinctly disempowered minority in their own denominations.

James Henley Thornwell of South Carolina, a pro-slavery theologian, described the conflict this way: The parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slaveholdersthey are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, jacobins, on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. He's identifying order and regulated freedom with pro-slavery theology.

Camacho: As you know, Betsy DeVos is the secretary of education. The argument from her camp would be that Christians are trying to combat a bias in public education that is stacked against Christians. Why do you think public education is such an important battleground?

Stewart: There's so much to unpack here. Let's just start with the hostility to government schools. The hostility goes back in time to some of those pro-slavery theologians. After Emancipation, they argued against taxing white people to educate black children. These kinds of arguments persisted to the middle of the 20th century when folks like Bob Jones objected to integration. He actually published a radio address called "Is Segregation Scriptural?" and called segregation "God's established order." We see this hostility to public education even in the 1980s and 1990s. Jerry Falwell Sr. said, around 1980, that he hoped to see the day when there are no more public schools, churches will have taken them over, and Christians will be running them.

For many members of the movement that have expressed hostility to public education and what they call government schools, it reflects a concern that children attending public schools, their children in particular, will learn tools like critical thinking or will become tolerant of religious pluralism and leave the flock. I think they've developed a persecution narrative around public education that anything failing to affirm their religion is somehow hostile to it. They reject the values of pluralism and diversity that our democratic system is meant to support. Public schools, because of their pluralism and diversity, are nonsectarian. They are meant to neither affirm nor deny any particular religious viewpoint.

The movement has, over the years, engaged in a two-pronged strategy. Number one, they start to force their program and their agenda into the public schools through things like Good News Clubs, or promoting a partisan view of American history, attacking things like the teaching of evolution. Two, they promise to deflate the schools and weaken them as Jerry Falwell Sr. hoped to see. In particular, they deflate public schools by reducing the amount of money that goes toward public schools and poor families, diverting money over to private religious schools, which, as we know, are allowed to discriminate against students that don't participate in their religion, against LGBTQ Americans and so many others.

Camacho: Reading your book really provides perspective on how much money, organization, and long-term vision the Christian nationalist movement has. And honestly, it can also be slightly depressing. What gives you hope?

Stewart: I'm seeing a lot more activism today than I saw, say, five or six years ago. We can't begin to meet the challenges that we face until we recognize what they are. And I think there's a growing awareness that we're not just dealing with a culture war. We're actually dealing with a political movement. I think that makes it incredibly helpful. While it's true that a sector of the media has basically been enlisted in a propaganda campaign, working with far-right platforms, being mouthpieces for disinformation and hate, there's so many others that are working to bring the truth to light.

Christian nationalism in some ways is the fruit of a society that has not lived up to the promise of the American idea. There is a lot of work to be done. But for now, we're free to do it. We've met these challenges in the past well enough that we made it to the present moment. Religious nationalists are using the tools of democratic political culture to end democracy. I continue to believe those same resources can be used to restore it.


The Long-Term Vision of the Christian Nationalist Movement - Sojourners