Posts Tagged ‘economics’

I love Facebook fights. <_<

February 28, 2011

A friend of mine, generally open-minded and accepting, recently posted the Yahoo! Finance article “Ways Your Appearance Affects Your Paycheck” on his page. The article begins with the incredibly privileged statement, “How successful you become is mostly up to you. Success also depends on how you’re perceived by others. Numerous studies have shown looks can impact career advancement,” and then lists several qualities that will “earn” you a higher salary, including symmetrical features, the “right” height and weight, an “appropriate” degree of attractiveness, and so on. Cue Facebook Fight.

Me: “This is disgusting.

Me: “And the use of that picture in conjunction with this article is hilariously sad, because it’s from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Which, skewed as it is by capitalism, is still a call to value the beauty of real people instead of holding them to standards of perfection that are not only impossible to reach (or maintain), but offensive (often racist), as well.

Friend: “I didn’t think it was THAT bad. It doesn’t explicitly say, ‘If you’re prettier you get a raise.’ In fact, it even says if you’re ‘TOO pretty’ it can actually be bad. It just gives tips on what to wear and how to present yourself, and it’s not something that everyone can’t do. Like no beards, or smile, or don’t be overweight.”

Me: “‘Skinny women.’ That right there’s actually a huge chunk of what’s wrong with it. Not everyone can (or should) be the same weight. It’s not like there’s one ideal weight for everyone. This article isn’t just about presenting oneself professionally, it’s about how people with symmetrical features or the “right” body type, and also people who conform to society’s gender and sexual expectations, are more highly-paid than those who don’t measure up in terms of physical appearance and those who aren’t interested in altering their appearance, quite literally, for the Man. If two women hold the same job, should the femme one have a higher salary than the butch one? Why is salary based on appearance and personal expression? It should be about skills, qualifications, talent.”

Friend: “I do agree about the skinny women thing and I don’t think everyone should be skinny, but I do think everyone should be healthy. And I’m all for equality and self expression and individuality, and I think it’s sad that more of our society isn’t, but I think it’s on it’s [sic] way. 100 years ago, women and people of alternative ethnic backgrounds couldn’t hold the same positions as white men did. Look how much things have changed since then, our president is black (my lambo is blue), we have female senators, CEOs, etc. I think the same thing is about to happen for people with alternative sexual orientations. They just take time though.”

Me: “I want people to be healthy too. Especially the people I love. So. Is an unhealthy weight grounds for paying someone less money than a person with the same job description but a healthier weight for their body type? (And that can only be determined by a doctor, contrary to popular opinion. Not everyone who’s considered “overweight” actually is.) Is it an employer’s job to regulate the weight of their employees? Or their health? If that’s the case, what about all the people with other health issues–cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, depression, etc.? You’re right, we’ve come a long way, but there’s still much room for improvement. There are still glass ceilings that haven’t been shattered. Women can head powerful corporations, but women as a whole still earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar. If you live in the right state, you might be able to elect queer politicians, but queer kids are still being bullied to death, literally, and much of mainstream pop culture does nothing but drive home the point that people who are different are wrong. Part of the process toward social progress is fighting the harmful things we find in our culture. There WON’T be progress without teenage lesbians suing their schools for the right to wear tuxedos to prom, people refusing to participate in a system that bases worth on physical appearance over innate qualities, etc.”

THE END, he didn’t want to play anymore. v_v

“Give me your hand, / Turn out your toe, / All lovers know / The way to go…”

May 1, 2009

A few weeks ago I read the book Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix and I think you should all go read it. It’s about the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. I mean it’s about three girls, Bella and Yetta and Jane, all from different backgrounds, who become friends because of the Triangle. There’s symbolism all throughout the book, symbolism about fire, tinder, sparks, escape…symbolism about triangles and the triangle of friends the girls become. I’ll tell you right now (because you learn it at the very beginning of the book, so no spoilers here) that two of the girls die in the fire, and one lives to tell the tale. I’ll also tell you that even though I’ve studied this in history and everything, and even though I was warned from page one, I felt like these girls were (or could have been, or I wished they were) my friends, and I was so devastated to lose them that I cried. 

But really, if you have any interest in women’s rights, workers’ rights, labor unions, the history of industrialism, politics, socialism, capitalism, immigration, safety laws, whatever, you should pick this up at your library or friendly neighborhood bookstore. It’s a YA book, it’s easy reading, other than the obviously tragic subject material, educational, provocative, sensitive, yeah, all that stuff. There’s also an afterword that will help your favorite YA connect the concepts and issues in the book to current equivalents. You know what would be really neat? To raise socially conscious kids and young adults who are passionate about education and about solving the world’s problems. So. Go find it. To spur you onward in your little quest, I’m including the following exerpt…

Jane stood on the threshold and looked back and forth–foyer or study, white marble or dark wood…She felt like she was making a momentous decision. The other time she’d felt this way, deciding to bring Bella home, she’d been impulsive, like someone tossing a coin into the air, letting chance determine her fate. That decision could have gone either way. This time, Jane wanted to be sure she knew what she was doing.

She swallowed hard and stepped forward, into her father’s study.

“I have not fallen in with a dangerous, socialist crowd,” she said. “What they say is true. Those girls don’t make enough money. And their bosses have paid off the police and other…other thugs to beat them up. It isn’t right.”

Father blew out a thin stream of smoke.

“Girls shouldn’t bewalking the picket line,” he said. “For that matter, they shouldn’t be working in factories.”

“What would you have them do to survive?” Jane asked.

Father was rifling through papers, lifting them from one stack into another.

“Their fathers or brothers or husbands should take care of them,” he said, without even looking up.

“What if they don’t have fathers or brothers or husbands?” Jane asked. She was thinking of the Italian girl, Bella. But something caught in her throat, a cry twisted. “What if that was me?”

Father slammed his hand down on his stack of papers.

“For heaven’s sake, Jane, this is ridiculous!” he fumed. “You would never be in a situation like those girls. They’re not like you. I’m not sure what stories they’ve told you to get your sympathy, but I can assure you, it’s really none of your business and probably mostly lies, besides. They’re very calculating, those Jews.”

“They’re not all Jewish,” Jane said. “They’re Italian, Irish–”

“Immigrants,” Father said, biting down on his cigar. His lip curled up in disgust.

“Some are Americans!” Jane said. “And anyhow, I’ve seen the police beating them, it’s not just stories I’ve heard–I’ve seen it with my own eyes! The girls are doing nothing more than walk around, and they get punched and kicked…and they’re girls!”

Father smashed his cigar down into the ashtray Mrs. O’Malley slipped onto his desk before tiptoeing back out.

“It’s unfortunate that there are girls involved,” Father said. “But that’s how it is in business. It’s not some polite little game of croquet. Why, I’ve hired strikebreakers myself.

Strikebreakers, Jane thought dizzily. The people beating up the strikers. In her mind she could see fists hitting faces, heads jerking back, bodies crumbling to the ground. My own father would hire such cretins, arrange such attacks?

“When?” she asked, through lips that felt strangely numb.

Father wave his cigar at her impatiently.

“You were a baby,” he said, in a tone that implied she was a baby still, in terms of what she knew about the world.

“Did…did Mother know?”

“What does it matter?” Father said. “It had to be done. If I’d let the union in, let the workers take control of my factory, I’d have been ruined. It’s a battlefield out there, and only the strong can survive. You better be glad I hired strikebreakers, young lady, because otherwise we wouldn’t have any of this.” His gesture took in the dark wood paneling of his study, the marble floor of the foyer, the servants waiting outside the door. “I can assure you, you wouldn’t have such nice dresses.”

Jane looked down at her frothy dress, a sea of ruffles and frills.

“Then I don’t want them,” Jane said. She tore at the collar of the dress, but that was ridiculous–this dress was so complicated it usually took both a maid and Miss Milhouse to get her in and out of it. And would she really want to be standing there in front of her father in her under-things?

His money paid for my under-things too….

“I don’t want anything your money buys, if that’s how you got it!” Jane yelled. “Hiring strikebreakers, hurting people, probably starving them too–”

“Oh, please, Jane,” Father huffed. “That’s how the world works! Some people are rich and some are poor, and by God, if I can be on the rich side, that’s where I’m going to stand! Would you have us all living in hovels, wearing sackcloth and ashes, eating gruel? That’s what the socialists want. They’d pull everyone down to their level if they could–”

But Jane had already whirled away from him. Blindly, she darted out the study door, out the front door…Mr. Corrigan was standing in the driveway by the car, brushing snow from the windshield.

“Please!” Jane shouted at him, sliding into the backseat. “You have to take me to…” Where could she go? Somehwere away from this house, away from her father.

Mr. Corrigan glanced nervously back at the house, at the huge windows staring out at them, where anyone could be watching.

“I’m sorry, miss,” he said. “I’m not allowed.”

“Fine!” Jane shouted. “Be that way!” Her father’s tainted money had bought the car, too, and Mr. Corrigan’s services. She slipped back out into the snow, slamming the car door behind her. She began stomping off down the snowy driveway.

“Wait!” Mr. Corrigan called. “You don’t have your coat!”

Jane shrugged, and kept going.

“Then”–Mr. Corrigan chased after her and placed one of the lap blankets from the car around her shoulders– “at least wear this!”

Jane knew she should shove it down in the snow, because her father’s money had bought the lap blanket, just like everything else. But it was warm around her shoulders, and it made her feel a solidarity with Bella, who’d also huddled in a blanket in her moment of tragedy: Bella had lost her entire family, and now Jane had to break away from her father, because he was an evil, evil man.

Jane tramped through the snow, past mansions and monstrous estates. Some of them were houses she’d always admired and secretly envied, but now when she glanced toward the twists of wrought-iron gates she thought she saw the twisted faces of workers who’d toiled and starved just so the industrialists could have a fine gate. It was like seeing the grimy enginge beneath the car’s gleaming exterior: Suddenly she could see how all the glitter and elegance, all the excess and opulence, had been built on the backs of workers like Bella and Yetta, workers calling out for justice.

And workers like Mr. Corrigan trying to support seven children on twenty-five dollars a week, because that’s all my father pays him.

So my parents obviously haven’t hired people to beat up union members, and we’re middle, not upper class, but I’ve been having some epiphanies of my own, and I’m coming to the same place, the same realizations as Jane and I feel a really strong connection with her. I know what it’s like to reject that I somehow deserve to be well-off while others starve and die of preventable diseases and work in sweatshops, and I know what it’s like to be ridiculed and insulted for believing something different, namely that other people are as valuable as you and I. If you agree, or if you disagree but are interested just the same, or if you’re coming to realizations of your own, I seriously recommend this book to thee. Ha, I feel like Reading Rainbow. Long live Reading Rainbow! <3

“The love of money is the root of all evil.” -Jesus of Nazareth

April 29, 2009

[The following are exerpts of a new series of posts by jmallory. Emphasis is mine.]

…I want to say that I CRINGE when I hear that the US is a Christian Nation. It is not, nor will it ever be… not with the system that the forefathers have set up, anyway. Secondly, I will define what I mean, and I assume, what most people mean, when I say, “Christian Nation”.  

A Christian nation is an entire country of people, devoted to following the teachings of Christ, or an  Ekklesia (church) if you will. From this definition, we can already see that the USA, is not, and under the constitution, cannot be a Christian nation. We have the freedom to follow any religion (or lack-thereof) we choose. Of course, this isn’t a new concept to anybody. However, for the sake of my point, I feel it is necessary to reiterate that point strongly. You see, if we truly are a Christian nation this is unacceptable, as it is clearly written that if there are those who continue with unrepented sin, they should be removed from among the body of Christ. Now, if we are a Christian nation, which we are NOT, we would understand that we, living in a community of fellowship with Christ, should not let this body, this community, this ekklesia, show any wrinkle or blemish. We would have to remove the evil person from among us. 

This poses a problem to this country which, supposedly, had been founded on Christian principles. When the Bill of Rights was written, George Mason and James Madison (deists- not Christians) had in mind that Americans should be free to worship or not worship how they please, and the exercise could not be controlled by the state. <–It seems natural, based off of the first amendment, that there would need to be a separation of Church and State, yet, it seems as though it should be natural to a Christian as well, as we are to be in the world, but no of the world. 

So, just how are we, the United States of America, a Christian nation? How is it possible, under our constitution, to be a Christian nation? Is it the idea that the majority of the US claims Christianity as their religion? That doesn’t make this nation a “Christian nation.” Is it our principles? Is it the American dream that makes us a Christian Nation? Absolutely not!

Our entire system is corrupt. Capitalism and Christianity can not coexist. Especially, in this day and age, it is the most evil idea that has crept into the minds and philosophies of not only Americans, but internationally, as well… and the idea is still a growing one. The problem with Capitalism, as common knowledge suggests, is that as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. The majority have to suffer so that a few can live as they please. Yet, if you grew up as an American, you were probably taught that Capitalism is the best economical system the world has had yet. I disagree.. but that is what I was taught too. I will agree that Capitalism works (obviously not too well, as we’ve seen in the economy)… but that is all it does. It doesn’t help.

Take this financial crisis for instance. A lot of the bailout money ended up going into the pockets of those who work to keep the businesses running, and it wasn’t used how it had been intended to be used, that is, it wasn’t used to actually help the businesses, themselves. That is what capitalism does. It keeps a corrupted heart corrupt, and it corrupts the hearts of those that are uncorrupted. 

Capitalism idolizes mammon (money). This entire country idolizes capitalism. And if the Empire is idolizing capitalism, which idolizes mammon, then WE ARE IDOLATERS. This is when we really need to look at what Jesus says, “A slave cannot serve two masters. Either he will love one and hate the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both, God and mammon.”

There are those that are reading this that will know exactly what I am talking about when they find themselves trying to defend mammon instead of God’s own words. There will be others who will not catch it… because no one wants to believe that something that has been a part of them for so long could, in all reality, be evil. [from “So You Want to be a Christian Nation? Part One“]

I find it ironic that you can find, “In God We Trust” on our currency.

What I’m saying isn’t a brand new idea, obviously, however, this subject is something that Christians ought to think about. Who is the “we” our currency is talking about? Not everyone believes in God. Some believe in a god or gods, but its (or their) name(s) isn’t (aren’t) “God”. However, our currency seems to suggest that we (Americans) trust in God. Not all of us do. In fact, many Christians don’t even put their trust in God. Many people put their trust in (drum roll please?) …MONEY! Again, I blame it on our system of capitalism. 

So does the phrase, “In God We Trust” really belong on our money? I don’t believe it does. I think that mammon is part of the world and should not taint the church. It is just another one of those things on the dollar bill that has become part of its intricate design- easy to overlook. Really, I don’t feel comfortable knowing that I will be trusting my money to put food on my table and not God. What I’m saying is, if “In God We Trust” is meant to be a friendly reminder telling us to pay attention to what we are investing in, it doesn’t work, and it really only serves as a contradiction. In a sense, this forces many people to live a lie. 

The solution to this problem is simple- though it may cost a lot. Take “In God We Trust” off of the American currency. It doesn’t need to be on our money and causes God to look at us and say, “Really? You trust me? You trust me, but you’ve refused to give that homeless man even a penny of what you’ve earned?” Remember–how you treat others is how you treat God. What you give others is what you give to God. If you want to be a Christian nation, trust God. Give away all that you have. See how God takes care of you. You may not have everything you want, but God will give you everything you need… and you would be doing this so others can have what they need. That would make one’s spirit beautiful.

I would also say that, along with taking “In God We Trust” off of our currency, we should take out “One nation under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. But I’m not going to say that. I am taking it a step further. I’m saying get rid of the entire Pledge of Allegiance… if you want to be a Christian nation (you can read some interesting stuff about the Pledge of Allegiance on Tom’s blog).  The reason why I say this is because as you recite the Pledge of Allegiance, you are declaring the USA your home. Is it really your home though? I don’t think it is. We are citizens of another kingdom. This makes us ambassadors. We are here temporarily and our purpose is threefold. 1) Worship God–serve only him (when we serve “the least of these, we serve God as well). 2) To let the world know about Christ (this is something that is less of a duty and more of something we shouldn’t help. The spirit should be overflowing in us, so we would have no choice but to tell others the source of our joy). 3) Help bring Heaven to Earth (the work of an ambassador–to represent his home)

That is all we are here for- and it is only temporary. Soon, we will be with God in our true home- the kingdom of God, which we are to help bring to earth. However, if Heaven is our true home, why would we declare the USA as our home? Is it because the USA seems more tangible then the Kingdom of God? Is it because we have a group of rulers that we can see? Is it because here, we have a sense of “freedom”? I’ve said it before and I will say it again. The term “freedom” is relative. If all of our freedoms are ripped away from us, God is still in Heaven and Christ still died for us. That is all the freedom we really need–that is, the peace and rest Christ has given us in and through him. I could still feel free if I can’t speak my mind (granted, it would not be fun). I could still feel free if I can’t worship God anywhere outside my home (I would probably do it anyway–but that is an entire different blog altogether). I would still have my thoughts. I would still have my beliefs, and NOBODY can take that away. 

Anyway, back on topic, when you say the pledge, you are claiming that we are one nation under God…this is a dilemma. Saying this can equate to saying that if you are not “under God” you are not a citizen of the USA or if you are in the USA, you are automatically under God. I have a problem with this. First, I want to explain that I do believe the USA and everyone in it is “under God”. That is my belief and since it is my belief, I say this is an accurate statement. However, we dwellers of the USA have a freedom of religion which is protected by the first amendment of the US Constitution. Not everyone believes in God or they may believe in a different god. But when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance, they are forced to say that they are under God (spiritually, they are, but in their own mind, they are not). Perhaps “forced” is the wrong word, but there is only one Pledge of Allegiance for the USA. But when you are saying that you pledge your allegiance to the USA, you are pledging your allegiance to God. Otherwise, you are not really pledging your allegiance. This goes against our very constitution, making it a contradiction to what the US actually stands for, thus, technically voiding the Pledge of Allegiance. Which to a Christian, this should be ok… because this is not our true home. We are simply visiting and making the best of our stay.

But we are not a Christian nation. If we were, we shouldn’t have a pledge of allegiance. Our pledge of allegiance should be our constant prayers to God. He is the only one we should be pledging our allegiance to, anyway. 

So you want to be a Christian nation?

Step One: Rewrite the Bill of Rights
Step Two: Find a monetary system that does not cause us to put our money before God.
Step Three: Remove “In God We Trust” from our currency- unless you really are trusting God.
Step Four: Get rid of the Pledge of Allegiance [from “So You Want to be a Christian Nation? Part Two“]

Uh, now it’s me again.  Still on the subject of the phrase “under God” in the pledge…what really irks me about this phrase is that it automatically assumes the US, our “one nation” is God-approved. If WE are “one nation under God” and your country ISN’T, then yeah, it’s “logical” to make the leap to say that the war in Iraq is a holy mission and we’re on the right side of it. [GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, “Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.” Are we fighting a holy war? PALIN: You know, I don’t know if that was my exact quote. GIBSON: Exact words.] It’s a really scary place to be, assuming that God likes us better and is on our side because we go to Christian churches.

Ahhhhh.

April 28, 2009

An executive’s salary for working with paper
beats the wage in a metal shop operating shears
which beats what a gardener earns arranging stone.

But the pay for a surgeon’s use of scissors
is larger than that of a heavy equipment driver removing stone
which in turn beats a secretary’s cheque for handling paper.

And, a geologist’s hours with stone
nets more than a teacher’s with paper
and definitely beats someone’s time in a garment factory with scissors.

In addition: to manufacture paper
you need stone to extract metal to fabricate scissors
to cut the product to size.
To make scissors you must have paper to write out the specs
and a whetstone to sharpen the new edges.
Creating gravel, you require the scissor-blades of the crusher
and lots of order forms and invoices at the office.

Thus I believe there is a connection
between things
and not at all like the hierarchy of winners
of a child’s game.
When a man starts insisting
he should be paid more than me
because he’s more important to the task at hand,
I keep seeing how the whole process collapses
if almost any one of us is missing.
When a woman claims she deserves more money
because she went to school longer,
I remember the taxes I paid to support her education.
Should she benefit twice?
Then there’s the guy who demands extra
because he has so much seniority
and understands his work so well
he has ceased to care, does as little as possible,
or refuses to master the latest techniques
the new-hires are required to know.
Even if he’s helpful and somehow still curious
after his many years—

Without a machine to precisely measure
how much sweat we each provide
or a contraption hooked up to electrodes in the brain
to record the amount we think,
my getting less than him
and more than her
makes no sense to me.
Surely whatever we do at the job
for our eight hours—as long as it contributes—
has to be worth the same.

And if anyone mentions
this is a nice idea but isn’t possible,
consider what we have now:
everybody dissatisfied, continually grumbling and disputing.
No, I’m afraid it’s the wage system that doesn’t function
except it goes on
and will
until we set to work to stop it

with paper, with scissors, and with stone. 

[“Paper, Scissors, Stone” by Tom Wayman from The Face of Jack Munro. © Harbour, 1986]