Saturday, November 30, 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
So I majored in religious studies and have spent a fair bit of time in church, which may color my thinking, but am I alone in thinking that Black Friday is clearly a religious observance?- fishingboatproceeds
(I mean, obviously it’s a totally secular event and has nothing to do with God or gods or anything*. I mean religious in the sense that a religion at its core is just a worldview/orientation/value set and the traditions/rituals/practices that help codify and express that worldview.)
I would argue that all these people standing in line aren’t really there to save money. (Like, standing in line at Best Buy for four hours to save $20 on a TV is almost never an economically rational decision.)
They’re standing in line to be part of something. And the something is consumer spending, the foundational idea of (and driving force behind) America’s relative economic health. And because we associate economic health so closely with community health, Black Friday is a way of both giving thanks and making an offering.
In the end, I would argue the rituals surrounding Black Friday—combing through emails and advertisements for coupons, waking up before dawn, communing with strangers in large indoor public spaces (Target, Wal-Mart, etc.)—aren’t just similar to religious rituals. I would argue that they are religious rituals, just ones played out in a secular world.
As David Foster Wallace noted in his famous commencement address at my alma mater Kenyon College, “There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”
(For the record, I don’t find this particularly sad or tragic or anything. I just find it really interesting.)
* But then again, many religious traditions have little or nothing to do with God or gods.
Anyone who pays attention to this country knows that the god we really worship is Mammon. This goes double for the supposed Christians in the GOP.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
"Wage repression is a fairly self-explanatory term meaning the deliberate undermining of wages by employers. Wage repression is most often used by private sector employers in order to cut their payroll expenditure, but taken as a whole, the state is actually the largest employer, and is just as capable of repressing wages as the private sector.Thomas G. Clark
The idea that economic efficiency can be increased through the repression of wages is an article of faith for ideological neoliberals. Witness the effects of the current Tory austerity programme on wages, or think back to the 1980s when the collective bargaining rights of millions of workers were attacked by Margerat Thatcher’s government.
I say that wage repression is an article of neoliberal faith because (much like a lot of orthodox neoliberal theory) there is actually little actual evidence that wage repression is good for the national economy, and in fact, a lot of evidence that it is actually harmful.
The reason that the subject of wage repression is important now, is that the UK is currently enduring the longest period of wage repression in over a century, in which the average wage has fallen in real terms every single month for three consecutive years (every month since the Tory led government came to power).
The idea that wage repression is actually bad for the economy is hardly a new one. Quakers and other non-conformist religious groups realised early in the industrial revolution that by paying reasonable wages, and providing additional benefits such as education and healthcare, they themselves benefited from the massively increased productivity of a loyal, healthy and educated workforce (as compared to the bitterly exploited, poor, unhealthy, malnourished and ill-educated workforces of the less ethically minded of the early industrial pioneers). Probably the most famous rejection of wage repression was the high pay / low price policy of the American automobile manufacturer Henry Ford (hardly a “leftie” by any stretch of the imagination), who paid high wages and made low profit margins on his vehicles, so that his employees would return their wages back to his business through the purchase of the vehicles they themselves had been constructing.
To put the historic objection to wage repression into reasonably simple economic terms: Wage repression is bad because it reduces the disposable income of workeres - When workers have less money to spend, this results in a fall in consumer spending - When consumer spending falls, aggregate demand falls - When aggregate demand falls the economy falls into low-growth, recession or depression.
I don’t think it takes a lot of brains to realise that the less money the public have in their pockets, the less they are going to spend, and that this fall in spending will have a negative knock-on effect on the wider economy.”
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
"Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly."
Thursday, November 07, 2013
"This is a generation that sees everything they do wrong as someone else's fault but everything that happens to other people as a matter of personal responsibility. Reading a tale of hard working, well intentioned people getting reamed by a corrupt system even as they work themselves to literal death might be an eye-opener. Sure, it will sail right over the heads of some of them. I feel, though, that the understanding that the world is not fair, life is hard, and getting by is often a tremendous struggle is a necessary precondition to having meaningful political attitudes. The idea that everything that happens to individuals in our society is their own fault poisons our entire culture, from our politics to our communities. People like Sinclair saw through this over a century ago, but somewhere along the way we chose to forget."
Ed, at Gin And Tacos, from the article "The Hand of Fate".
Ed, at Gin And Tacos, from the article "The Hand of Fate".
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Saturday, November 02, 2013
Ophir Kutiel, aka Kutiman, burst onto the digital scene with The Mother of All Funk Chords in 2009. Now he has resurfaced with a new video. This time, it’s a musical journey through Jerusalem, a mashup that weaves together the sounds of local musicians, creating a visual/aural composition that lets you tap into the unique sound of a city that lives partly in the past, partly in the future, always wavering between optimism and despair…
(stolen whole cloth from Open Culture)