The post-employment economy and its discontents

First, a blog note: My Friday Links post will probably be late this week (again). It’s been an exhausting week, and I have a busy weekend planned–so I’ll get to it as soon as I can, but I’m not sure when that will be.

With that out of the way, here are some reflections I’ve been having on the issues I started exploring in my post about millenials and the terrible economy we’ve inherited: one that I’ve best heard described by writer Sarah Kendzior as a post-employment economy.

On a message board discussing both my post and the millenial-bashing one to which I was responding, I read a comment (which unfortunately I can no longer find)  that said, basically, money doesn’t buy happiness–that it’s possible to be happy and have a good life without making much money.

On one hand, there’s a lot of truth to that. On the other hand, in our society, money can buy a lot of things it shouldn’t.

Like the ability to follow a career path that interests you.

To a certain extent, money has always been able to purchase opportunity; but as Alexandra Kimball discovered, it’s a lot more extreme now than it was for our parents and grandparents. Entire professions are closed off to all but the wealthy, as she experienced firsthand: after years of trying to start a career in journalism, she was able to break into the field only after receiving a surprise inheritance.

Or, say, compassion.

Take this incident that Adam Weistein relates in his response to the original piece.

Last weekend my baby had a fever, and we contemplated taking him to the ER, and my first thought was – had to be – “Oh God, that could wipe out our bank account! Maybe he can just ride it out?” Our status in this Big Financial Game had sucked my basic humanity towards my child away for a minute. If I wish for something better, is that me simply being entitled and delusional?

Or kindness. As Molly Crabapple points out in her brilliant, beautifully written, must-read piece about the relationship between art and money:

So much of the difference between the experiences of rich and poor comes down to kindness. Kindness is scarce. Kindness must be bought.

If you have money, you can pay to live in a bubble of politesse. Excellent wine choice, sir. Here’s your gift bag, madam. Often, you don’t have to pay for it. The mere promise that you might will keep you sipping prosecco and deserving of servile attentions. Soon, you think this treatment is earned.

Meanwhile, we treat the poor with casual cruelty. Single moms on welfare have their homes searched by police to make sure they’re not hiding a man in the closet. But it’s too much to ask bankers to justify the bonuses they sucked off the public teat. The poor get stop-and-frisk, drug tests, and constant distrust.

In our current system, money doesn’t just buy things. It buys the right to be treated like a human being.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Friday links, 6/21/13

An awesomely geeky car I saw recently.

Happy Friday! As usual, feel free to link to anything interesting you’ve read or written this week in the comments.

Fa(t)shion
-Lesley rounds up some cute floral print stuff.
Elegance for all: can ModCloth change plus size fashion for good?
-Advanced Style’s photoshoot in Vogue Australia is gorgeous.
We’re here, we’re queer, and we look real cute: indie designers challenging gender norms.
-There’s now a blog for fatshionable apples!
This dress. Oh, this dress! It’s like a giant cupcake and I want one just like it.

Fat Activism
A great interview with Virgie Tovar in both English and German.
This protest outside of a Victoria’s Secret in California, including both Virgie Tovar and Marilyn Wann, is awesome! You can see more pictures here on About-Face’s Facebook page.
-Melissa at Shakesville has yet another addition to the Fatstronauts 101 series, this time taking down the myth that fat people are stupid.
-Are you looking for a part-time internship doing fat activism? Check out the Militant Baker’s call for interns.
Public health does not make me public property.
Death is always a shock: on James Gandolfini and the rush to explain an unexpected loss.
-Two more good analyses of the AMA’s decision, from the Fat Nutritionist and Feed Me, I’m Cranky.

A great takedown of the idea that fat women shouldn’t cosplay thinner characters:

Climate and Sustainability
-The Climate Justice Hub here in Somerville is now open, and it’s an awesome space for community-building and action. If you live in the area, check out their calendar of events.
-Through an event at the CJ Hub, I met Bethany, an amazing writer who blogs about making the world a better place at Granite Bunny. I highly recommend everything she writes, but here are a few places to start: Bicknell’s thrush, Yoga and Montana’s Tongue River Valley, and We’re gonna win.
Local, self-sufficient, optimistic: are transition towns the way forward?

Everything Else
-I recently came across anthropologist Sarah Kendzior‘s writing, and I love all of it. I wish more people were deconstructing our economic system the way she does. A few of my favorite recent pieces: In defense of complaining, The moral bankruptcy of the internship economy, and The unaffordable Baby Boomer dream.
On being a “good” black man, from the perspective of a transgender man who started to face a different kind of racism once he transitioned.
-I love these answers from students about why they need feminism.
On invisible health issues, and the complex space between “healthy” and “disabled.”
Enforcing poverty to access health care.
Why cops don’t believe rape victims, and how brain science can help solve the problem.