Jack Saturday

Monday, October 05, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1358-1360

The September jobs numbers are easily the worst of 2015 so far.
 The new numbers are poor on pretty much every level.
This is usually the point in one of these stories where we would list the silver linings — the countervailing details that suggest it isn’t as bad as all that. This report doesn’t really offer any.
What the Terrible September Jobs Report Means for the Economy
Neil Irwin
New York Times
OCT. 2, 2015

[emphasis JS]

 There’s a new quinoa restaurant in San Francisco — yes, quinoa restaurants are a thing in San Francisco, so that’s not what’s noteworthy. At this restaurant, customers order, pay and receive their food and never interact with a person.

The restaurant, Eatsa, the first in a chain with national ambitions, is almost fully automated. There are no waiters or even an order taker behind a counter. There is no counter. There are unseen people helping to prepare the food, but there are plans to fully automate that process, too, if it can be done less expensively than employing people.
Automation is transforming every industry....
Eatsa is one more example of how rapidly machines have moved beyond routine jobs like clerical and manufacturing work to knowledge jobs and service jobs....

Restaurant of the Future? Service With an Impersonal Touch
Claire Cain Miller
New York Times
SEPT. 8, 2015

 [emphasis JS]

If you consider how much of our world's systems revolve around scarcity — from basic needs like food and shelter to quality-of-life improving desirables — it's no wonder that the resource-abundant world of the Star Trek universe would seem like utopian fantasy. But every day, advances in science and technology take a step closer to a future that in a word can be described as abundant.
Our Star Trek-like Future Awaits on This Week’s Episode of Ask an Expert
By David J. Hill
Oct 01, 2015
Community, Video

Monday, September 28, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1355-1357

Investments in affordable and social housing are remarkably cost-effective. Especially in periods of economic instability, every dollar invested in social and affordable housing reaps a dividend. The Mowat Centre estimates every dollar spent on housing investments results in a $1.52 increase in real GDP. Furthermore, providing better housing can result in cost savings. The average cost of a shelter bed in Toronto in 2012 was over $52 per night, adding up to $1,500 per month. For context, the average monthly rent for a bachelor apartment in Toronto in 2012 was $840, 44 percent cheaper. For people with mental health issues or who have experienced chronic homelessness, stable affordable housing results in significant savings in use of health and emergency services.Access to housing – HEIA in the Federal Election
September 22, 2015 by Wellesley Institute

[emphasis JS]

 In a 2014 paper called "Food Stamp Entrepreneurs," Gareth Olds, a Ph.D. candidate at Brown University, found during the expansion of welfare programs in the early 2000s, there was a 16% boost in households owning incorporated businesses. For immigrants, enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program increased business ownership likelihood to 28%.

What's most striking is that many of the entrepreneurs who ended up starting their businesses weren't actually cashing in on those food stamps. Just knowing there was a safety net available incentivized them to take more risks.

But what happens when you give money to those who don't necessarily need it? One study from Nattavudh Powdthavee of Singapore's Nanyang Technological Institute showed in a group of lottery winners, unearned income "improves traits that predict pro-social and cooperative behaviors, preferences for social contact, empathy, and gregariousness, as well as reduce individuals' tendency to experience negative emotional states." In other words, acquiring unexpected funds that are untethered to job performance helped make them more empathetic, happy and social.
Jack Smith IV

[emphasis JS]

Basic minimum income makes sense economically, and it could lead to important social benefits too. Crime rates would likely decrease because people wouldn't need to steal to survive. More Americans would have the opportunity to raise families or complete their education when they're not working three jobs just to get by. And, a minimum income would ensure that no one would be denied their basic human dignity by being forced to live in squalor in the richest nation of the face of the Earth. These are not extreme ideas. When you consider the economic, social, and moral benefits, a basic minimum income just makes sense.
 It's time for a basic minimum income!
Mar. 28, 2014
[emphasis JS]

Monday, September 21, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1352-1354

There’s something missing from the B.C. economic picture. A quarterly report released Tuesday shows enough generally positive indicators that the government continues to plan balanced budgets for the next three years. Retail sales are booming, the real estate market is hot and the economic growth rate is on the upswing.

But where are all the new jobs?

This month is the fourth anniversary of the B.C. Jobs Plan, the Liberals’ determined effort to set the table for hundreds of thousands of new jobs over the long haul.

Four years into that ambitious, multi-faceted employment drive, even Finance Minister Mike de Jong had to concede the numbers aren’t where the B.C. Liberals would like them to be.

“It’s not achieved the level of growth and employment that we are striving to achieve. I think everyone in government would acknowledge that,” he said while discussing the quarterly report.

The report makes that clear. “Employment activity has been modest during the first seven months of 2015,” it states, citing a half per cent bump compared to last year.

That’s about 11,600 more jobs. It breaks down as a gain of 39,600 full-time jobs, offset by a loss of about 28,000 part-time jobs.

On the scale originally envisioned in the jobs plan, that’s peanuts.
Jobs bonanza has failed to materialize
Les Leyne 
Victoria Times Colonist
September 15, 2015

 For many Americans, life has become all competition all the time. Workers across the socioeconomic spectrum, from hotel housekeepers to surgeons, have stories about toiling 12- to 16-hour days (often without overtime pay) and experiencing anxiety attacks and exhaustion. Public health experts have begun talking about stress as an epidemic.
The problem is even more acute for the 42 million women in America on the brink of poverty.
A Toxic Work World
New York Times
SEPT. 18, 2015

The value of life is life, I suddenly felt. For the first time I really understood that we aren't here just to do a job, but, as the sages have often told us, also to be. Darkness falls fast, after all.
Bonnie Friedman,
Surrendering Oz


Monday, September 14, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1349-1351

Jorge Villalba was a construction worker when the housing market began slowing in 2005, so the Glendale resident changed jobs and decided to invest in his future by going to college.

So far, the investment hasn't paid off.

Villalba, 34, owes $158,000 in student loans for his four-year degree in multimedia, 3-D animation and graphic design at ITT Technical Institute. He isn't earning enough to keep up with the payments, so the amount keeps rising with interest.

He figured he'd get a great job and pay off the loans.

"It hasn't happened that way," said Villalba, who is married with two young children but can't afford to move from their cramped one-bedroom apartment.
   Sept 5, 2015
   [emphasis JS]

 Harvard Business School is in a privileged position to explore this issue. On Wednesday, it will release a report based on a survey of its alumni — a notably well-heeled set — about their concern over America’s lack of shared prosperity. While it offers a case for optimism, it also suggests that executives’ enlightened self-interest is probably not enough to bring about social change.

Surprisingly, perhaps, executives care about such things. Two-thirds said it was more important to address poverty, inequality, middle-class stagnation or economic mobility than to stimulate economic growth.
Corporate Efforts to Address Social Problems Have Limits 
Eduardo Porter
New York Times
SEPT. 8, 2015 
[emphasis JS]

 The sociologist Max Weber classically argued that the Protestant Reformation had a peculiar effect on American work. At the dawn of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther preached that hard work in any occupation was a meaningful duty — a calling from God. John Calvin took this idea a step further, arguing that people should avoid socializing while working, as attention to relationships and emotions would distract them from productively fulfilling God’s will. Over the generations, these Calvinist teachings influenced Protestants, who came to view social considerations as inappropriate and inefficient in the workplace. Protestant men were especially susceptible, as they were expected and socialized to focus on productivity. For much of the 20th century, American workplaces were largely designed by Protestant men.

Yet in recent years, America has become noticeably less Protestant, dropping from roughly 70 percent in the 1950s to 57 percent in 1985, 49 percent in 2005, and 37 percent last year, according to Gallup. The proportion of Protestant chief executives has declined, too. 
Friends at Work? Not So Much 
New York Times 
SEPT. 4, 2015
 [emphasis JS]

Monday, September 07, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1346-1348

Despite steady gains in hiring, a falling unemployment rate and other signs of an improving economy, take-home pay for many American workers has effectively fallen since the economic recovery began in 2009, according to a new study by an advocacy group that is to be released on Thursday.

The declines were greatest for the lowest-paid workers in sectors where hiring has been strong — home health care, food preparation and retailing — even though wages were already below average to begin with in those service industries.

productivity in the American economy in the second quarter rose at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, the biggest quarterly gain since late 2013….
Low-Income Workers See Biggest Drop in Paychecks
New York Times
SEPT. 2, 2015

[emphasis JS] 

 What is less known is that millions of Americans are living in situations of similar poverty. A new book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, explores the status of Americans who face this extreme level of poverty.

“Most of us would say we would have trouble understanding how families in a country as rich as ours could live on so little," Kathryn J. Edin, who co-wrote the book with H. Luke Shaefer, said in a conference call recorded by CBS News. "These families, contrary to what many would expect, are workers..."

the number of Americans living on $2 a day or less has “more than doubled since 1996, placing 1.5 million households and 3 million children in this desperate economic situation.”
 The Number of Americans Living on Less Than $2 a Day Is Skyrocketing
 By Zaid Jilani / AlterNet
September 2, 2015

[emphasis JS]

It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will have uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.

Increasingly, businesses need only a relatively small pool of “talent” anchored in the enterprise –  innovators and strategists responsible for the firm’s unique competitive strength.

Everyone else is becoming fungible, sought only for their reliability and low cost.
But that’s not all. Ultimately, we’ll need a guaranteed minimum basic income. ...

[emphasis JS]

Monday, August 31, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1343-1345

What makes people sick? Infectious agents like bacteria and viruses, and personal factors like smoking, eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle.

But none of these compares to the way that poverty makes us sick. Prescribing medications and lifestyle changes for our patients who suffer from income deficiency isn’t enough; we need to start prescribing healthy incomes.
Sound expensive? A growing body of evidence shows that allowing poverty to continue is far more expensive than investing to help improve people’s economic well-being. Currently $3.8 billion — 5 per cent of GDP — is lost from the Saskatchewan economy each year due to increased health and social costs and decreased economic opportunities. In Ontario, this cost of poverty has been calculated to be upwards of $30 billion per year — far more than estimated costs of basic income implementation.
Basic income: just what the doctor ordered
                                                                 Danielle Martin and Ryan Meili
                                                                 Published on Wed Aug 26 2015
                                                                                       (emphasis JS)

 It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will have uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.

Increasingly, businesses need only a relatively small pool of “talent” anchored in the enterprise –  innovators and strategists responsible for the firm’s unique competitive strength.

Everyone else is becoming fungible, sought only for their reliability and low cost.
But that’s not all. Ultimately, we’ll need a guaranteed minimum basic income. ...

Why the 'Gig' and 'Share' Economy Is the Last Thing You Want to Depend on to Pay the Bills
Robert Reich
via AlterNet

To have done anything just for money is to have been truly idle.
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, August 24, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1340-1342

I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, nay, to life itself than this incessant business.
Henry David Thoreau

 In Amazon warehouses, employees are monitored by sophisticated electronic systems to ensure they are packing enough boxes every hour. (Amazon came under fire in 2011 when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell...

Bo Olson ... lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
“You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus,” said a marketer who spent six years in the retail division. “It’s a horrible feeling.” …

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big
Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

AUG. 15, 2015
New York Times

[emphasis JS]

from the comments section:

 "The ones that burn out are the lucky ones, at least they escape. The one's that don't? You can see them - they're dead behind the eyes." - thats what an ex Amazon employee told me recently.
Decades ago we learned how to treat production line workers badly. More recently we learned how to treat call centre and admin workers like replaceable machines. What Amazon has achieved is to build a machine that is able to treat managers and senior professionals as automatons."
Glenn Elliott

"Oh the humanity..."
Wait. There is none. All this chest thumping and back stabbing to deliver an Elsa doll in 23 minutes? Get a grip. These people aren't saving lives in an ER for 18 hours at a stretch, they're not feeding the hungry, housing the homeless. They barely have time to engage their families let alone contribute positively to their communities or the world outside their cubicle/abattoir. This is success?

 ...when you take a person and put him in a job which he does not like. He gets irritable in his groove. His duties soon become a monotonous routine that slowly dulls his senses. As I walk into offices, through factories and stores, I often find myself looking into the expressionless faces of people going through mechanical motions. They are people whose minds are stunned and slowly dying.
William J. Reilly
How To Avoid Work

thanks to Maria Popova

Monday, August 17, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1337-1339

Despite … massive donations, largely baked goods and non-perishables such as dented cans, nearly 15 per cent of capital region residents don’t always have enough to eat, Wallace said, quoting a 2013 Victoria Foundation report. Some people sacrifice food to pay their rent.
Katherine Dedyna
Victoria Times Colonist
August 11, 2015 

[emphasis JS]

Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all.
the currency of postcapitalism: free time, networked activity and free stuff.
Yet information is abundant. Information goods are freely replicable. Once a thing is made, it can be copied/pasted infinitely. A music track or the giant database you use to build an airliner has a production cost; but its cost of reproduction falls towards zero. Therefore, if the normal price mechanism of capitalism prevails over time, its price will fall towards zero, too.

For the past 25 years economics has been wrestling with this problem: all mainstream economics proceeds from a condition of scarcity, yet the most dynamic force in our modern world is abundant and, as hippy genius Stewart Brand once put it, “wants to be free”.
the need is not for a supercomputed Five Year Plan – but a project, the aim of which should be to expand those technologies, business models and behaviours that dissolve market forces, socialise knowledge, eradicate the need for work and push the economy towards abundance. I call it Project Zero – because its aims are a zero-carbon-energy system; the production of machines, products and services with zero marginal costs; and the reduction of necessary work time as close as possible to zero.
The main contradiction today is between the possibility of free, abundant goods and information; and a system of monopolies, banks and governments trying to keep things private, scarce and commercial. Everything comes down to the struggle between the network and the hierarchy.    ...
The end of capitalism has begun.

Paul Mason
Friday 17 July 2015 

[emphasis JS]

Today, in our culture of productivity-fetishism, we have succumbed to the tyrannical notion of “work/life balance” and have come to see the very notion of “leisure” not as essential to the human spirit but as self-indulgent luxury reserved for the privileged or deplorable idleness reserved for the lazy. And yet the most significant human achievements between Aristotle’s time and our own — our greatest art, the most enduring ideas of philosophy, the spark for every technological breakthrough — originated in leisure, in moments of unburdened contemplation, of absolute presence with the universe within one’s own mind and absolute attentiveness to life without, be it Galileo inventing modern timekeeping after watching a pendulum swing in a cathedral or Oliver Sacks illuminating music’s incredible effects on the mind while hiking in a Norwegian fjord.
Maria Popova on
Josef Pieper's Leisure, The Basis Of Culture

[emphasis JS] 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1334-1336

If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work.
Khalil Gibran

What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.
Pearl Bailey

 It is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known.
R. Buckminster Fuller

Monday, August 03, 2015

Anti Wage-Slavery Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 1331-1333

In the dominant North American culture we talk about health as a possession, something you have and are responsible for maintaining. But I see our health as like a tripod, a dynamic thing: One leg is your relationship with all other human beings. It’s not possible for you to be healthy when there are people living under a freeway overpass in cardboard boxes. Your health is dependent on theirs. The second leg is your relationship with all in the world that’s not human. If you have only these two legs, you can try to live a good life, but it’s like walking on stilts. The third leg is what gives you a place to rest, and that leg is your relationship with the unseen world, everything not described by the other two. Having all three constitutes health. That’s where it lives. This tripod sustains you. You don’t exist as an individual without these relationships.
Stephen Jenkinson
[emphasis JS] 

"One of the adverse effects of the government's welfare programs," says a booklet prepared for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Life Insurance Officers' Association, "is that they tend to weaken the individual's responsibility for his own well being. The more real income and security a person gets from sources outside his own effort, the less incentive he will have to work hard to improve his own economic position." If this is true, then the inheritance tax ought to be increased to one hundred per cent. More than one-fifth of the country's business elite inherited their positions; their wealth came from "sources outside their own effort."
Pierre Berton, The Smug Minority 
[emphasis JS]  

Here are a few numbers.

In 2012, the federal government spent $786 billion on Social Security and $94 billion on unemployment. Additionally, federal and state governments together spent $1 trillion on welfare of the food stamp variety. Adding those costs together, that's $1.88 trillion.

There are 115,227,000 households in the U.S. Split $1.88 trillion among all these households and each one gets $16,315.62.

"In the United States — as in all of the world’s wealthier nations — ending poverty is not a matter of resources."

Poverty exists, because of lack of political will and because of citizen miseducation.

Start demanding your share of your country's wealth.

Because you own it.
Nicole Tin