No more “deserving” vs. “undeserving”: why we need a guaranteed basic income (and a parallel to intuitive eating)

farm with ducks and chickens and barn in background

What would you do, if you could do anything? I have a few ideas…

David Graeber (of “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” fame) has a great interview on PBS about the need for a guaranteed basic income to replace our current system of complex, dehumanizing bureaucracies. He says:

The problem is that we have this gigantic apparatus that presumes to tell people who’s worthy, who’s not, what people should be doing, what they shouldn’t. They’re all about assessing value, but in fact, the whole system fell apart in 2008 because nobody really knows how to do it. We don’t really know how to assess the value of people’s work, of people’s contributions, of people themselves, and philosophically, that makes sense; there is no easy way to do it. So the best thing to do is just to say, alright, everyone go out and you decide for yourselves.

I agree, so hard, with his critique of bureaucracy. From personal experience with unemployment benefits, I can tell you it’s a little bit soul-crushing to have to keep proving, week after week, that you’ve done enough job-hunting to deserve to pay your rent; and that’s just the tip of the government-benefits iceberg. There are so many poor and working-poor people for whom navigating the bureaucracies of food stamps, housing assistance, heating assistance, welfare, etc. is a full-time job of its own. See, for example, this piece about the ridiculous, invasive, confusing hoops that food stamp recipients have to jump through in order to eat.

Let me be clear: right now, while there is no alternative, we need those bureaucracies. We need to defend them against attacks from the Right, and push to expand them when possible. Right now, food stamps keep people from starving.

But in the big picture, in the long term, we can do better. I envision a society in which a guaranteed basic income is considered a right. I envision a society in which no one has to justify themselves, a society that doesn’t divide people into “deserving” and “undeserving”–a society that doesn’t make people jump through hoops for their basic human rights. A society that recognizes that, by virtue of being alive, everyone deserves enough money to live. (For what it’s worth, there’s plenty of empirical evidence that giving money directly to poor people decreases poverty and has other positive effects.)

Continue reading

Fantasy outfit: floral and tulle with an edge

Floral and tulle with an edge

 
I’m a little obsessed with the particular floral pattern of that sweater. I’d seen it around on various straight sized pieces, so I was super-excited to find that Boohoo’s new plus size line uses it on not one, but three items of clothing. The dress, which is my favorite, only goes up to a UK 20/US 16, though. And the sweater goes up to UK 24/US 20, but is sold out in that size. Boooo. I’m really sick of plus size lines with such limited sizing.

It’s Earth Day. I have thoughts (and a bunch of links).

woman wearing hot pink shirt climbing out of tree roots in the woods

The Laura in her natural habitat, in the Berkshires about a year ago. I just noticed that the rock in the upper left corner of the picture looks like a heart!

I’m trying to catch up on all the Earth Day-related news and essays around the internet, and there are a lot–you should see how many tabs I have open right now. To start, I’ll point you to the Nation, which has devoted all of its content today to climate change (!!). So far, I recommend these:
-The change within: the obstacles we face are not just external.
-“Jobs vs. the environment”: how to counter this divisive big lie.

In Keystone XL-related news, Obama has delayed his decision on the pipeline…again. On one hand, it’s kind of annoying that he keeps putting it off; but at the same time, it’s a sign of progress. As Bill McKibben puts it, “[W]ithout a broad and brave movement, DC would have permitted this dumb pipeline in 2011. So on we go.”

Today is the start of the Reject and Protect protest against KXL, which is hosted by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance (yes, that’s really what they call their group of farmers, ranchers, and Native American tribal leaders). There will be a big rally on Sunday, and many of my fellow Bostonians will be there. I don’t have the travel-energy for it, after two trips to Philadelphia in the past few weeks to see my grandmother, but I will be there in spirit.

A protest I might actually be able to attend is the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 20-21. Finally, a major climate action within a few hours of Boston! And I love NYC, so I appreciate any excuse to go there.

Now, on to the thoughts–which are about one particular article. To be fair, I didn’t read the whole thing, just a post about it, so take my reactions with a grain of salt; but I didn’t have the brain-space to read the whole thing when even a few quotes pissed me off so much. The article is a New York Times Magazine profile of Paul Kingsnorth, a former environmental activist who publicly gave up on climate change and retreated to the woods to found a literary journal and hold Burning Man-like parties.

As Heather Smith at Grist points out, his group “sounds less like an enduring movement with relevance to the environmental movement as a whole than a midlife crisis.” 

And then she really nails it: “In declaring the largest problem of our era unfixable, Kingsnorth gave himself — and a few other earnest, idealistic types – the perfect excuse to put on a badger mask and go party in the woods.”

My take on all this: it takes a metric fuckton of privilege to give up on the world. Continue reading

Dear fatkini manufacturers…

I’ve ranted about this before, but I’m going to rant about it again, because summer is coming up and I really, really want to find a fatkini. I’ve read so much about the transformative power of going out in public with your belly showing, and I want to experience that. I want to feel the sun on my squishy, stretch-marked belly. I want to say, “This is my body, and it’s a bikini body!”

Last year, I tried one of Gabi Gregg’s Swimsuits for All bikinis, hoping that maybe maybe a halter top would work for me…but no. Even tied loosely, the halter hurt my neck; tied tightly, it still didn’t give enough support. And no matter how I tied it, there was imminent boob-escapage. So I returned it, and I’ve been on the hunt for a non-halter fatkini ever since.

woman wearing hot pink gabi gregg swimsuits for all fatkini bikini with pink rose crown

I’m still looking. Jess Baker just posted a roundup of 18 fatkinis, many of which are really cute…and 16 of which are halters.

In both her list, and my searches around the plus size internet, the only alternative to halter tops seems to be tops with built-in underwires. I’d be willing to give them a try, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t be comfortable on me either–I don’t even wear underwire bras. I just hate having pokey things poking me.

Why won’t anyone make a fatkini with a mesh bra-like thing, which is what my one-piece has? I don’t know what’s it’s actually called, but it’s comfortable and reasonably supportive. I love, love, love my one-piece:

fat woman standing on the beach wearing a rainbow striped one-piece swimsuit

(It’s by a brand called Longitude Women’s, and my mom found it at either TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, in case anyone is looking for something similar.) Seriously, I wish someone would just make a bikini that’s exactly like my one-piece, but without the middle. How hard can it be?

Monday links, 4/21/14

labyrinth with stones and small shrubs

Fa(t)shion
-Sara rounds up gorgeous chunky sandals (which are exactly what I’d be wearing if I could find some that fit me!)
-A plus size swimwear resource list.
-I’m always on the lookout for shops that sell tutus, and I just found 1583 Designs, which makes tutus of various colors (including ombre patterns!) in custom sizes.
-A list of size 4X ModCloth items that actually fit like a  28/30.
-I love this colorful shoot featuring some awesome purses.

Fat Acceptance
-Lindsey Averill writes about why she’s making a documentary about fatness.
-How to actually stop stigmatizing obesity.
-A great comic about being fat and proud.
-If you’re in L.A., check out this awesome-looking fat burlesque, drag, and hoop-dancing show!
-The lesbian magazine Curve Magazine‘s latest issue, the Body Issue, is full of fabulous fatness. I bought a copy at a local bookstore, and I seriously want to put every other page up on my wall. It includes an interview with Mary Lambert, a blurb on Gisela Ramirez’ “F*ck Flattering” shirt, a piece about the intersection of being fat and a queer POC, a feature on Size Queen Clothing and Rowdy Baubles jewelry, and so much more.
-Chicagoans, check out the new Body Positive Chicago community.
-We are not smarter than hunger.
-Tori writes about what she learned at the Body Love Conference. You can also see some pictures of the conference here.
-Ragen takes apart that ridiculous Feminist Wire piece that I ranted about here.

This woman’s style is amazing. I wish I could find similar clothing in my size!
Continue reading

Happy Easter! Today’s links roundup will be postponed until tomorrow.

bouquet of pink, orange, and yellow roses with baby's breath

Pretty flowers I saw recently at Trader Joe’s

Happy Easter to those who celebrate, happy end-of-Passover to my fellow Jews, and happy spring to everyone in the Northern hemisphere!

I’ve been having a wonderful weekend of casual interfaith hanging-outage. Last night, I had a few friends over for a “seder” that involved mostly eating chicken soup and matzoh balls (which my friend Sam made using her mom’s recipe!), ordering Chinese, and watching The Prince of Egypt. And now I’m about to head to my local park for an Easter egg hunt organized by another friend, to be following by general frolicking and dinner.

I haven’t had time to put together this week’s links post, so I’ll put it up tomorrow (which is a holiday here in Massachusetts anyway).