Article 43

 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Where’s The Revolution?

image: american dream is over

Thoughtlessness has become something that now occupies a privileged, if not celebrated, place in the political landscape and the mainstream cultural apparatuses. The result is a social system overly invested in ethical ignorance and a public sphere, dumbed to the value of an enlightened and democratic body politic.
- Culture of Stupidity

In our social connections, we Americans are not doing much better. We cannot necessarily TURN TO A FRIEND in an emotional emergency, no less turn to them to BORROW MONEY. Families also can no longer necessarily help. They too live on the brink. Americans are increasingly ISOLATED. According to Robert Putnams book Bowling Alone (2009), there are fewer Americans connected to any group at all from PTAs to blood drives to political organizations than were in bowling leagues alone in 1970. Unfortunately, social and personal isolation is now worse.
- Awakening Part 12

Jenny Chan, Mark Selden, and Pun Ngai spent a decade conducting undercover research at Foxconn’s major manufacturing sites in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai, Kunshan, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin, Langfang, Taiyuan, and Wuhan for their book DYING FOR AN IPHONE: APPLE, FOXCONN, AND THE LIVES OF CHINESE WORKERS. What they describe is an Orwellian dystopia, one where global corporations have perfected the techniques for a disempowered work force.  These vast worker cities are little more than labor penal colonies. Yes, it is possible to leave, but to incur the ire of the bosses, especially by speaking out or attempting to organize, is to be blacklisted for life throughout China’s archipelago of industrial centers and cast to the margins of society or often prison.
- Moden Day Slavery

“People ask me all the time why we don’t have a revolution in America, or at least a major wave of reform similar to that of the Progressive Era or the New Deal or the Great Society - given that middle incomes are sinking, the ranks of the poor are swelling, and almost all the economic gains are going to the top. The answer is complex, but three reasons stand out: (1) The working class is paralyzed with fear it will lose the jobs and wages it already has, and its major vehicle for organizing itself - labor unions - have been decimated; (2) students (who have been in years past a force for social change) are laden with debt and face a lousy jobs market, and don’t want to rock the boat; and (3) the American public has become so cynical about government (in large part due to Republican tactics) that many no longer believe reform is possible.”
- Robert Reich, 2014

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If Everything Sucks, Where’s the Revolution?
How We Got Conditioned Into Accepting Dystopia

By Umair Haque
Eudaimonia
October 12, 2021

Here’s a tiny question. Why is it that the future of the human race, the planet, democracy, life itself is ON THE LINE RIGHT NOW - and there’s not a revolution anywhere in sight?

Take a glimpse at the headlines. Today they were so dystopian even I held my head in pain. A brief smattering? Trump’s back in action - and Biden’s sinking in the polls. The Democrats can’t get a thing done. China’s building more coal plants. Brits, thanks to the colossal stupidity of Brexit, still can’t get gas, food, milk, medicine - but nobody’s supposed to talk much about it. Billionaires got trillions richer, while millions are dead of a preventable plague. Shall I go on?

We’re hammered, you and I, with dystopia. It rains down on us daily like a deluge. FASCISM, climate change, BOUNTY HUNTERS CHASING WOMEN IN TEXAS, the Taliban back in power, nature being annihilated, the seasons changing into things we don’t have words for, whole regions of the globe becoming Fire and Flood and Plague Belts.

You’d think, given all that, that people would be fed up. That they’d be clamouring for transformation - not just “change,” whatever that even means, but profound, deep, lasting transformation. To institutions, constitutions, norms, values, these things we thoughtlessly call “lifestyles.”

You’d think, given the sheer scale of dystopia thundering down on us, that it’d be an Age of Revolution. But… it’s not. Instead, its an Age of indifference, of apathy, of resignation, fatalism, futility. It’s an Age of Paralysis, an age of Pacification, instead of a Revolution.

Something is very, VERY WRONG with that. That isn’t remotely normal. When people are pushed to the brink - like we are, and I mean everything from countries to generations - normally, they push back. But… we don’t. Throughout history, peasants have revolted when pushed too far. France, Russia, Britain. Ages of Revolutions have been a constant theme throughout history. WHY AREN’T we pushing back? Why are we just accepting dystopia fatalistically, instead of revolting against it?

Sorry, but I don’t just mean “voting for Joe Biden.” I mean actually revolting. For better structures and systems and institutions and values and norms. I mean disobeying the corrupt, corroded systems and structures which have failed us, ripping them down, and building better, fairer, truer ones. I mean really pushing back.

Here we are, at humanity’s most crucial juncture - the planet is dying, our polities are melting down, our societies do not function anymore - and there are no revolutions. Not even a hint or a trace of one. The next decade or two is going to decide the fate of us for centuries, probably millennia. Will we have a planet to live on? Societies to belong to? Or will we just plunge into a new Dark Age?

We are going down without a fight - and yet we live in one of history’s most critical moments.

That is profoundly, deeply weird. It says that somehow, something broke us. Right down in the mind, the spirit, the will to live, endure, grow. What is that something?

First, let me put a name to this weird phenomenon of living-in-one-of-history’s-most-dystopian-moment yet were going down without a fight, not a revolution anywhere in sight. Let’s call it the Great Paralysis. Somethings numbed us. Paralysed us. Pacified us.

A Chomskyite might call it “manufactured consent,” but I’d go further than that. Let me explain.

I think whats paralyzed us is the brutal combination of technology and capital.

Let me focus for a moment on young people. The last time the world went dystopian, young people responded fiercely. I’m thinking of the hippies of the 60s, the love children. Their intense focus on love and peace was a direct consequence of growing up in the ashes of world war.

Today, they’re derided. “Hippie” is a insult. But it shouldn’t be. Because young people back then believed in truly noble and earth-shaking goals. Like, yes, world peace and an end to war and violence and equality for all peoples and nations.

Did they make it happen? The answer that’s often given is that they didn’t. But that answer is wrong. The peace movements of the 60s had a massive impact. They were responsible, if not solely, than at least pretty critically, for everything from the passage of everything from civil rights to what would become, in the 1980s, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Those flower children grew up - at least some of them - and really did begin to end war, violence, hunger, and poverty.

It’s a foolish myth to imagine that the massive growth in consciousness which happened in the 60s resulted in nothing, that all those hippies just grew up to become boomers. They didn’t. Many of them went on to do genuinely beautiful and world-changing things, whether at the United Nations, or as civil rights advocates, or as gay rights lawyers, and so forth.

Now let’s think about young people today. They have no goals whatsoever. I don’t mean personal goals. I mean generational ones. In the same way that we could have said that young people in the 60s believed - not all of them, just at the average - in the end of violence, war, hunger, and so forth, today, we can’t say young people believe in or aspire to anything as a generation.

Sure, Greta and Malala are trying to get them to. But by and large, you don’t see young people on the streets every day shouting that they still need a planet to live on, or societies that work, or just lives that don’t end in dystopian ruin. Yes, it happens once in a while, but it’s not a generational, feeling, norm, rule, sentiment. We don’t think of Zoomers and Millennials as revolutionaries - but just the opposite: as poor kids who are caught like deer in the headlights of an approaching freight train, except this is the express train to global collapse.

So why arent young people more revolutionary? Again, that’s not some kind of “kids today” jeremiad - its just a fact. The fascists protest more and harder than the youths - whether anti-vaxxers or the Jan 6thers. The reason, I think, is technology.

Let’s take the example of young women. What are they doing, if theyre not out there making a revolution happen? TheyҒre glued to Instagram. The statistics are horrific. Teens spend, on average, nine hours a day staring at screens - three of them on social media. The average TikTok user spends one and a half hours on the app.

What does Instagram do? It makes young women OBJECTIFY THEMSELVES. Their goal in life becomes to look like weird alien baby strippers. Sexualized objects made of filler and pout and plastic surgery. That is the only way to win the popularity game, because its what the algorithm - an algorithm controlled and reinforced by men twice, three, four times their age - rewards. The algorithm tells them what to eat, wear, say, think. They react obediently, because, well, you can’t fight an algorithm.

The result is that a generation of young women are being traumatised by a pedophilic, algorithmic male gaze. Of course they’re not out there revolting. They’re too busy being rewarded for sexualising themselves, and being punished when they don’t, with eating disorders and self-hate and loneliness and worthlessness.

What is tech teaching young women? That their real role models are “influencers” whose job in life is to look like baby strippers with alien demon plastic surgery faces. That is who they should aspire to be, and they should feel worthless if they can’t be that popular. This game is RIGGED by men for men, who “code” it, of course.

Young women are supposed to be baby strippers - not Malala and Greta.

See the problem here? Think of how many young women combined follow all those “infuencers,” whose only real job it is to degrade them into sexualization. Tens, hundreds of millions. Now think of why Malala and Greta can barely rouse a protest at the UN or Congress or wherever. You begin to see the problem. Way, way more young women are objectified by tech than are allowed, encouraged, incentivized, to care about the world they live in.

I want to make clear thats not a misogynistic insult. It is an observation about how the structures of patriarchy and capital control women. The “code: that teaches young women to be baby strippers, not Malala and Greta is literally owned by men. Written by men. Traded on “stock markets” by men. Patriarchy and capital batter young women with exploitation just as they always have - only this time, they use an algorithm, not a scarlet letter or a stone. Your place is virgin or whore. It’s to look pretty, but not too pretty. A woman’s job isn’t to think. And it’s certainly not to rebel.

Now lets think about young men. Why don’t they rebel, either? Well, TAKE A LOOK AT CULTURE TODAY. What passes for it is Marvel movies. A few generations ago, you had John Lennon singing about the end of war and violence and hunger forever to hundreds of millions and they believed in it. See the difference?

Young men today exist in a cultural matrix poisoned by the stupidity and greed of capital. Whats a young man told to be? Elon Musk, maybe. Or maybe some dumb Marvel movie hero. Save the world with your super-muscles! Young men grow up in a weird, abusive cultural matrix, which is only getting weirder. The ones that can’t make it, cant fit in, can’t get girls, don’t even become punks or nerds much anymore - they become incels. And then incels taunt each other into self-castration or massacring women. It’s super, super bad.

The plight of young men is, of course, the mirror image of that of young women. If young women are taught to be submissive, giggling, hypersexualized baby strippers - all vocal fry and filler - than young men are taught to be the muscled, mindless, “alpha male” bros who abuse and exploit them, and if they cant be that, then they’re worthless. The average young dude today couldnt tell you what happens at two, three, four degrees of climate change - because, like a young woman, he’s glued to a screen.

But what do young men do on their screens? Well, if young women are hypersexualizing themselves for an algorithmic male gaze, then young men are addicted to porn, violence, and greed. I know that makes me sound like Joel Osteen or something, but - well, think about it. 70% of men who watch porn are under the age of 24. There’s evidence that the age group that’s most likely to develop a porn addiction is THIRTEEN TO SIXTEEN years old.

Then there’s video games. Hey, I like a good video game as much as the next dude. But you can’t just play video games and not know a damned thing about global warming. Then theres the omnipresent Marvel Movie. A new one every month - none of which have any redeeming value in terms of making young men think about the world they actually live in at all, versus promoting the dumb fantasy that Real Men Have Super-Powers.

Tech in this way has pacified an entire generation. They should be out there in the streets, revolting. Instead, they’re glued to screens. And what screens do to young people, were beginning to find out, is incredibly depressing. Screen time crushes the soul, breaks the mind, paralysed the spirit. It pacifies - instead of sparks, enlightens, illiuminates, edifies.

That pacification is itself often traumatic. Young women aren’t happily pacified by Instaculture which teaches them that if they’re not baby stripper influencers, all giggles and submission, theyre worthless. It makes them depressed. But that is pacification too - the eradication of the will to revolt.

Men’s will to revolt, meanwhile, is pacified in a different way. You kill some dumb imaginary alien in a video game. You watch some dumb Marvel hero take on a super villain. Hey, wow! You feel betterfor a day or two. You go onto some forum where you can hate women, immigrants, minorities, anyone in your way - and you feel better. YouҒre egged on and encouraged by those just like you, trapped in a vicious circle of masturbatory catharsis. The will to revolt? Male culture is onanistic at this point, meaning, if you’re a young dude, and you’ve got porn, violence, and hate on tapwell, what need is there to revolt? Your will to revolt is going to eradicated by all those forms of masturbation long before it ever reaches a crescendo.

I know a lot of you won’t like reading the above. You’ll say: “What the hell is this dude on about?” And yet the fact, the problem, remains. This should be an Age of Revolution. Instead, it’s an Age of Paralysis. People - especially young people - should not be going down without a fight. But they are. And so something, my friends, needs to explain: what broke our spirits, minds, our will to revolt against the systems and structure which are hammering us over the heads with dystopia, every single day? Why is it that the future of the human race, the planet, democracy, life itself is on the line right now - and there’s not a revolution anywhere in sight?

SOURCE

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Getting back to Robert Reich - the guy who believed fear was keeping the country from revolting for better jobs seven years ago....
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The General Strike of 2021
By Robert Reich
October 13, 2021

On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported that some 4.3 million people had quit their jobs in August. That comes to about 2.9 percent of the workforce up from the previous record set in April, of about 4 million people quitting.

All told, about 4 million American workers have been leaving their jobs every month since last spring.

Add this to last Friday’s jobs report showing the number of job openings at a record high. The share of people working or actively looking for work (the labor force participation rate) has dropped to 61.6 percent. Participation for people in their prime working years, defined as 25 to 54 years old, is also down. Over the past year, job openings have increased 62 percent.

WHAT’S HAPPENING? You might say American workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions.

No one calls it a general strike. But in its own disorganized way it’s related to the organized strikes breaking out across the land, Hollywood TV and film crews, John Deere workers, Alabama coal miners, Nabisco workers, Kellogg workers, nurses in California, healthcare workers in Buffalo.

Disorganized or organized, American workers now have bargaining leverage to do better.

After a year and a half of the pandemic, consumers have pent-up demand for all sorts of goods and services. But employers are finding it hard to fill positions.

This general strike has nothing to do with the Republican bogeyman of extra unemployment benefits supposedly discouraging people from working. Reminder: The extra benefits ran out on Labor Day.

Renewed fears of the Delta variant of COVID may play some role. But it can’t be the major factor. With most adults now vaccinated, rates of hospitalizations and deaths are way down.

Childcare is a problem for many workers, to be sure. But lack of affordable childcare has been a problem for decades. It cant be the reason for the general strike.

I believe that the reluctance of workers to return to or remain in their old jobs is mostly because they’re fed up. Some have retired early. Others have found ways to make ends meet other than remain in jobs they abhor. Many just don’t want to return to backbreaking or boring low-wage shit jobs.

The media and most economists measure the economy’s success by the number of jobs it creates, while ignoring the *quality* of those jobs. That’s a huge oversight.

Years ago, when I was Secretary of Labor, I kept meeting working people all over the country who had full-time work but complained that their jobs paid too little and had few benefits, or were unsafe, or required lengthy or unpredictable hours. Many said their employers treated them badly, harassed them, and did not respect them.

Since then, these complaints have only grown louder, according to polls. For many, the pandemic was the last straw. Workers are burned out, fed up, fried. In the wake of so much hardship, illness and death during the past year, they’re not going to take it anymore.

To lure workers back, employers are raising wages and offering other inducements. Average earnings rose 19 cents an hour in September and are up more than $1 an hour or 4.6 percent - over the last year.

Clearly, that’s not enough.

Corporate America wants to frame this as a “labor shortage.” Wrong. What’s really going on is more accurately described as a living-wage shortage, a hazard pay shortage, a childcare shortage, a paid sick leave shortage, and a health care shortage.Unless *these* shortages are rectified, many Americans wont return to work anytime soon. I say it’s about time.

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Posted by Elvis on 10/14/21 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO • Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Sunday, October 10, 2021

NWO - Job Hunting 2021

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OBAMA’S BIGGEST BLEMISH remains the ongoing tragedy of mass unemployment. Not only does this have a human element - the countless lives harmed or destroyed by poverty and desperation - but it is a huge drag on our economy. Mass unemployment reduces spending - the engine of our economy - which in turn, reduces growth. And without meaningful growth, there’s no way to reduce long-term debt without inflicting a large dose of harmful austerity. That, in my view, is unacceptable.
Obama’s Biggest Blemish, January 3,2013

AFTER THE 2007-09 FINANCIAL CRISIS, the imbalances and risks pervading the global economy were exacerbated by policy mistakes. So, rather than address the structural problems that the financial collapse and ensuing recession revealed, governments mostly kicked the can down the road, creating major downside risks that made another crisis inevitable. And now that it has arrived, the risks are growing even more acute.

“The death of smaller businesses means that the big players in the stock market are anticipating a bumper year, full of bailouts and tax cuts and then austerity when convenient,” says Suresh Naidu, an economist at Columbia University who studies labor and inequality.

The coronavirus forced our entire economy onto life support from the federal government. Instead of choosing to support everyone during this temporary shutdown - guaranteeing the incomes of workers, instituting widespread debt relief, and pouring stimulus money directly into the base of the wealth pyramid, which supports everything else, the government has instead done what it is built to do: protect the biggest businesses and the accumulated wealth of the richest people, herding societys most powerful into an economic fortress, content in the knowledge that high unemployment and austerity for local governments will just create a population desperate to work for even lower wages than before. As the Trump administration pled helplessness over the fact that we have no good system for delivering money directly to individuals, it did not need to say that that, itself, is a policy choice that is now serving its intended purpose.
The Disconnect Between the Stock Market and the Real Economy Is Destroying Our Lives, may 5, 2020

[L]abour’s share of income is going to continue its downward trend after the current crisis ends. Aside from the profit incentive that has always existed to motivate automation, this crisis has highlighted the pandemic risks associated with relying on labour availability. Industries that employed millions of people pre-pandemic, such as accommodation and food service, as well as retailers, will take advantage of the technological advances in the coming years, suggesting that the so-called “jobless recovery” we saw after the Great Financial Crisis might end up proving to have been an absolute.
The ‘jobless recovery’ after the financial crisis is going to look like a labour bonanza compared with what’s coming next , February 2021

Confessions of job hunters: 5 people open up about their frustrations, from getting ghosted by recruiters to sending out 300 resumes with no response

By Jenny Powers
Business Insider
October 7, 2021

DESPITE REPORTS that there are more available jobs in America than people to fill them, people all over the country say actually getting hired is a different story.

Applicants say they’re being ghosted by recruiters, having their rsums eliminated by applicant tracking systems (ATS), and struggling to find remote work opportunities. At the same time, unemployment benefits have been cut off.

From graduate students to those looking for post-retirement work, Insider spoke with five people who are currently unemployed to learn what it’s like job-hunting during one of the worst times in economic history.

Here’s what they had to say:

Lauren Daly, 30, Henderson, Nevada

Due to a company restructure, I got laid off two weeks ago from my job as a sales rep in educational technology, and received two months severance.

The irony is in addition to that job, I teach an online course I created for a university focusing on career preparedness, covering everything from cover letters, rsums, interview tips, and how best to use LinkedIn to navigate the job search.

When I told my students I got laid off they asked, “How could you be out of work? You literally teach a class on getting jobs!” I resisted the impulse to say maybe I should create a class on how to keep jobs.

I assumed with my PhD and experience, I wouldn’t have a hard time breaking into the scrum master field I wanted to be in but right now, the market is insane. No one is ever really safe.

So far, five different recruiters have reached out claiming to have the ‘perfect fit’ for me, but I’ve been ghosted by all of them.

Bilal Waheed, 29, Astoria, New York

‘ve spent my life following an imaginary checklist based on societal and family expectations, but now that I’ve checked the required boxes, I’m in limbo.

My parents are Pakistani immigrants who always stressed the importance of higher education. I earned my Bachelor’s, worked for four years, then went to grad school for a Masters in applied statistics.

But since graduating in May and sending out nearly 70 applications for data science and analysis positions, I haven’t had a single interview and feel lost in a sea of other applicants. Dealing with so much rejection has been tough.

My savings ran out so I just applied for unemployment. I have $120,000 in student debt, so that’s another battle to face.

I wish I’d been better prepared to build up a network and leverage social capital like some of my classmates had been doing.

My dream is to work in data science for Spotify, but right now I don’t need to strive for the big-name jobs. I’m not ashamed to work my way up.

Donna Fields Brown, 70, Pearce, Arizona

I’m a retired RN looking for part-time work to supplement my social security income (SSI).

Working for over 30 years, I never truly found my niche and did a lot of job-hopping, but jobs were also plentiful back then.

In 2017, my husband and I retired, sold our house, and traveled across the country for two years in our 23-foot long travel trailer. We quickly discovered life on the road was more expensive than we thought.

When the pandemic hit, I took a part-time position as a Walmart cashier to supplement my SSI, but left after a month. Since then, I’ve applied for several jobs at Target, Safeway, and a nearby national park but I haven’t gotten any responses.

I don’t know what’s more daunting, filling out applications online or trying to find work in my ‘Golden Years.’ I’d have to say that both feel like full-time jobs.

Amanda Dexter, 35, Wathena, Kansas

I was an English teacher for seven years but left the field in April after experiencing complete burnout. I was offered a teaching contract this year but turned it down for the sake of my mental health.

I started applying for work two months prior to quitting my teaching job. I’d heard all these reports about how many jobs were opening up, so I thought I’d have no trouble finding one pretty quickly.

But it’s now seven months later and I’ve had no luck when it comes to jobs outside of classroom teaching. It seems like I can’t ever get my foot past the front door.

Personally, I think my resume is getting weeded out by applicant tracking systems before it can even be seen by a human. ATS software only scans for relevant keywords and job titles. When the system reviews my resume, all they see is ‘teaching’ and ‘education,’ not all of the transferable skills that an actual human would recognize as part of my work experience.

For example, I’m an experienced content writer and have applied to a variety of content writing jobs, but on the surface to an ATS, it looks like I have no applicable experience. A human would understand that an English teacher would be a strong writer or at least have some of the skills and potential for the job. Even applying to something like secretarial work seems hopeless because my rsum doesn’t include the types of keywords an ATS is scanning for.

I’ve tried LinkedIn Premium and even got a $29.99 a month subscription for a career coaching company called Work It Daily. I followed their r驩sum templates which focus on getting past the ATS and being easily navigable for recruiters and HR staff. I even had one of their coaches review my rsum驩 to make sure it all looked right. While I have noticed a slight uptick based on my revised format, it hasn’t yielded a full-time opportunity yet.

It’s been incredibly defeating receiving rejection after rejection or being ghosted altogether.

Caitlin Tolchin, 38, New York City

I was laid off from my role as an art director in April 2020, a week after finding out I was pregnant with our first child. Recruiters said no one would hire someone that needed maternity leave so soon after starting, so I temporarily paused my job search.

Our daughter is now 10 months old and my unemployment just ran out. Over the past four months, I’ve applied to approximately 300 positions and only received five or six callbacks, all of which were for in-person jobs which is too big of a COVID risk right now with a baby in the house.

I want to return to work in a remote, freelance or project-based position with the possibility of a hybrid schedule down the line.

For now, I’m going to continue my search and in the meantime, I plan on taking classes to build up my skills in the hopes of becoming more marketable.

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A worker in Florida applied to 60 entry-level jobs in September and got one interview

By Dominick Reuter
Business Insider
October 19.2021

Joey Holz recalled first hearing complaints about a labor shortage last year when he called to donate convalescent plasma at a clinic near Fort Myers, Florida.

“The guy went on this rant about how he can’t find help and he can’t keep anybody in his medical facility because they all quit over the stimulus checks,” Holz told Insider. “And I’m like, ‘Your medical professionals quit over $1,200 checks? That’s weird.’”

Over the next several months, he watched as a growing chorus of businesses said they COULDN’T FIND ANYONE TO HIRE because of government stimulus money. It was so ubiquitous that he joined a “No one wants to work” Facebook group, where users made memes deriding frustrated employers.

He said he found it hard to believe that government money was keeping people out of the labor force, especially when the end of expanded federal unemployment benefits did not seem to trigger a surge in employment. The expanded benefits ended in September, but 26 states ended them early in June and July.

“If this extra money that everyone’s supposedly living off of stopped in June and it’s now September, obviously, that’s not what’s stopping them,” he said. Workers have said companies struggling to hire aren’t offering competitive pay and benefits.

So Holz, a former food-service worker and charter-boat crewman, decided to run an experiment.

On September 1, he sent job applications to a pair of restaurants that had been particularly public about their staffing challenges.

Then, he widened the test and spent the remainder of the month applying to jobs mostly at employers vocal about a “lack of workers” and tracking his journey in a spreadsheet.

Two weeks and 28 applications later, he had just nine email responses, one follow-up phone call, and one interview with a construction company that advertised a full-time job focused on site cleanup paying $10 an hour.

But Holz said the construction company instead tried to offer Florida’s minimum wage of $8.65 to start, even though the wage was scheduled to increase to $10 an hour on September 30. He added that it wanted full-time availability, while scheduling only part time until Holz gained seniority.

Holz said he wasn’t applying for any roles he didn’t qualify for.

Some jobs “wanted a high-school diploma,” he said. “Some wanted retail experience,” he added. “Most of them either said ‘willing to train’ or ‘minimum experience,’ and none of them were over $12 an hour.”

He said: “I didn’t apply for anything that required a degree. I didn’t apply for anything that said ‘must have six months experience in this thing.’”

Holz isn’t alone. Others have also spoken out about their troubles finding work, despite the seemingly tight labor market.

In a Facebook post on September 29, which went viral on Twitter and Reddit as well, Holz said, “58 applications says y’all aren’t desperate for workers, you just miss your slaves.”

“My opinion is that this is a familiar story to many,” he added.

By the end of September, Holz had sent out 60 applications, received 16 email responses, four follow-up phone calls, and the solitary interview. He shared a pie chart showing his results.

Holz acknowledged that his results may not be representative of the larger labor challenges in the country, since his search was local and targeted the most vocal critics of stimulus spending.

He added that despite the claims of some businesses struggling to hire, his boss had no staffing issues during the pandemic.

“Nobody leaves those positions because he takes care of his people,” Holz said, referring to his boss.

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Posted by Elvis on 10/10/21 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO • Section Job Hunt • Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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Thursday, October 07, 2021

Unaffordable and Booming Home Prices

image: median home prices

How Can Houses Be Unaffordable and Booming?

By John Rubino
Dollar Collapse
September 20, 2021

Home prices have never been higher when compared to the average family’s income.

This kind of imbalance is normally a sign of an impending crash in home sales, followed by a drop in prices. But THAT’S NOT HAPPENING.

Some recent headlines:

Home prices set records in July; Tampa 4th highest in nation

With no slowdown in sight, Dallas home prices go up 23.7%

Asking Price On Homes Increases 12% To An All-Time High

How is it that homes are both unaffordable and soaring in price? As with so many other things that shouldn’t be, the answer can be found at the intersection of Wall Street and easy money.

During the previous decade’s Great Recession, hedge funds and private equity firms figured out that they could borrow for next-to-nothing and buy up the houses that banks were repossessing, then rent those houses back to millions of newly homeless Americans for good returns. Combine these positive cash flows with massive recent price appreciation, and those foreclosed houses turned out to be phenominal investments.

Now Wall Street is doubling down, using hundreds of billions of essentially free money to outbid individual buyers for whatever houses are still available. In some cases investment giants like Blackrock BUY UP ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOODS at big premiums to the asking price, pushing everyone else out of the market. Hence the disconnect between home prices and family incomes.

But wait, there’s more. Now the securitization machine has DISCOVERED HOUSES.

Zillow’s Home-Flipping Bonds Draw Wall Street Deeper Into Housing

(Bloomberg Businessweek) - Zillow Group Inc. is best known for the addictive real estate listings that keep people browsing the internet all night, has dived into the house-flipping business, offering to quickly take properties off sellers hands. And in the process it’s helping pull Wall Street even deeper into the $2 trillion U.S. housing market.

In August, Zillow raised $450 million from a bond backed by homes its bought but not yet sold. The offering, led by Credit Suisse Group AG, was modeled on the loan facilities that car dealerships use to finance floor models. The novelty of using that structure for houses didn’t scare off investors hungry for a new way to bet on the hottest housing market on record. The offering was over subscribed and Zillow, which declined to comment on its bond market activities, is now in the process of selling another $700 million in bonds.

Now those volumes are set to explode. Zillow expects to acquire homes at a pace of 5,000 a month by 2024. Another competitor, Offerpad Solutions Inc. could eventually buy 70,000 homes a year, based on its view of the future opportunity. Opendoor, still the largest iBuyer, has said its playbook calls for the company to capture 4% of all home sales in 100 markets. Together the three companies could soon be buying close to $100 billion worth of homes a year, requiring more than $20 billion in revolving credit facilities.

Looks like housing is yet another example of how easy money perverts formerly free markets. Where family income used to dictate (and limit) home prices, now the driver is the yield on corporate and asset-backed bonds. The lower those rates go, the higher home prices climb. If individual buyers are priced out, well, they can just rent from Wall Street, on whatever terms our new landlords think is fair.

SOURCE

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Homeownership Is The Least Affordable Since 2008 With Shelter Inflation About To Explode

By Tyler Durden
Zerohedge
October 4, 2021

Yesterday we asked a rhetorical question: how can (record high) home prices be rising so fast that housing is both unaffordable and booming at the same time? While a rational answer has yet to emerge, today the WSJ picks up on the former and writes that the record growth in home prices has made owning a home less affordable than at any point since the financial crisis.

Citing data from the Atlanta Fed, the Journal writes that the median American household would need just under a third, or 32.1% of its income, to cover mortgage payments on a median-priced home. Even though mortgage rates are at all-time lows, thats the most since November 2008, when the same outlays would eat up 34.2% of income. One can only imagine what will happen when prices continue to rise or when mortgage rates spike.

The advent of the latest housing bubble means that supercharged home prices in markets across the country, which in August rose by a record 20% across the top 20 MSA, are canceling the impact of modestly higher incomes and historically low interest rates, two factors that typically make owning a home more affordable. Higher prices require buyers to take out larger loans, essentially signing them up to make larger mortgage payments each month for years.

The Atlanta Fed calculates affordability using a three-month average of median home prices from CoreLogic and median household incomes based on census data. In July, the latest month in the Atlanta FedҒs calculations, median home prices were $342,350, up 23% from the year before. Median incomes were $67,031, up a tiny 3%, less than the current rate of inflation.

Citing economists, the WSJ said that declining affordability will have the biggest impact on buyers shopping for their first homes, who will have to sign up for larger monthly payments, buy less desirable homes or step back from the market altogether. Its also why Democrats RECENTLY PROPOSED A SUBSIDIZED 20-YEAR MORTGAGE for first-gen homebuyers, a gimmick that will only lead to even more taxpayer-funded market imbalances and an even greater bubble.

“It’s a lot more difficult for people to get their foot in the door of the housing market,” said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Haus, a home-finance startup. “The question is whether it is an insurmountable hurdle or is it just that these households have to spend more of their monthly income on the mortgage.”

The current situation is unique: in 2008 the dynamics were different, even if the effect - complete disarray in the housing market was the same. Home prices were falling, and many Americans OWED MORE ON THEIR HOMES THAN THE HOUMES WERE WORTH. Furthermore, widespread job losses weighed on household income for years.

Christopher Ferreris and his wife, Danielle Ferreris, have been hoping to purchase a home in the Tampa, Fla., area for close to two years. They can afford about $1,600 in monthly payments, but every house they have seen requires monthly payments about 25% bigger than that. As a result, they are stuck renting, where the double whammy of soaring rent prices is also hammering their disposable income.

“It’s almost like weve gotten into a holding pattern because of how difficult it is,” Mr. Ferreris said.

The typical value of a home in Tampa was $331,000 in August, up from $265,000 at the same time last year, according to Zillow.

The Ferreris are doing everything they can think of to save money, and Christopher started a side business last year buying and selling sports cards. He now counts on it for about $500 each month.

Of course, during the early months of the pandemic, homes became more affordable while interest rates fell. However, following trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, the dynamic reversed rapidly as many families, after sitting on the sidelines for a few months, raced to buy homes, eager for more space or to move out of crowded cities. The fierce competition sent home prices soaring. Affordability began to decline.

According to the Atlanta Fed, at the start of 2021, Americans needed about 29% of their income to cover a mortgage. That has since risen to about 32% by July. The Atlanta Fed includes principal, interest, taxes, insurance and related costs in mortgage payments.

“Any affordability that mortgage rates lended has pretty much been erased at this point,” said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at real-estate brokerage Redfin.

Home buyers have noticed. About 63% of consumers surveyed in August believed it was a bad time to buy a house, according to Fannie Mae. That was up from 35% at the same time last year.

The punchline: while the Fed pretends none of this is happening, Goldmans shelter inflation tracker just surged to the highest level on record, rising 4.6% Y/Y, a print which suggests that PCE Shelter Index, which lags by about 6 months, is about to go through the roof.

How and whether the Fed responds to a surge in housing inflation it will no longer be able to ignore remains to be seen.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/07/21 •
Section Revelations • Section NWO • Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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General Strike

image: general strike

Almost EVERYWHERE I LOOK these days - from the hard to believe U.S. LABOR SHORTAGE, to FRANCE’S Yellow Vests- workers are fighting back.

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On the Call for an October 15 General Strike

By Ari Saffran
Socialist Revolution
September 20, 2021

History proves that those in power never grant concessions out of the goodness of their hearts. Anything that fundamentally changes peoples’ lives must be fought for and won. As this lesson seeps into the minds of millions, a small group of online organizers have sent out a call for a general strike on October 15.

Despite not being backed by any recognized part of the labor movement, their appeal has received a healthy echo on social media, with several thousand participating in its organizing channels. This is symptomatic of the growing class consciousness, discontent with the status quo, and increasing willingness to fight back among American workers and youth.

The basic aims of the strike are certainly laudable. They include wage increases, improvements to working conditions, and political reform. Calling for a general strike is a qualitative advance over many past campaigns, which merely demanded this or that legislative solution. The active agent of a “call for legislation” is the bourgeois politician who makes backroom deals and whips votes to cobble together a majority. A general strike, on the other hand, is a manifestation of the organized, concerted action of the working class. However, there is much more to organizing a general strike than just calling for one.

Who should we place demands on?

Revolutionaries believe that once the working class is conscious of itself as a class and the essential role it plays in the functioning of society, it can change the entire system. Every strike, struggle, or mass movement is part of a learning process as the working class moves through leaps and setbacks towards this kind of consciousness. As part of this process, Marxists place demands on the leaders of the labor movement and the left.

These individuals owe their positions to the structures of the organized working class. In the US, the unions are the only mass workers’ organizations, as we do not yet have a political party of our own. And even though they are currently controlled by an entrenched bureaucracy, the working class must fight to regain the unions if the movement is to progress. If the individual leaders will not listen to our demands, many workers within these organizations certainly will, and they will either transform the unions into genuine tools of struggle, or, failing that, understand the need to create new, more militant and fully class-independent organizations.

This is very different from placing demands on the politicians of bourgeois parties, who are accountable only to rich donors and the capitalist media. Asking them to make changes in favor of the working class is naive at best, and foments illusions in the idea that labor and capital have common interests. It implies that capitalist society offers genuine democracy for everyone. The bitter truth is that workers should expect nothing from any capitalist governmentand the Biden government is such a government. The capitalist rulers do give reforms at certain times, but this is only ever a byproduct of class struggle, when the bosses feel that their system as a whole is threatened. When the movement dies down, they claw the reforms back, one way or the other.

With this in mind, any appeal for a general strike should be directed at the labor leaders
, as it is ultimately their responsibility to call and organize for it. Furthermore, a general strike should not be conceived as something merely to “pressure” the bosses but rather, to demonstrate to the workers their vast potential power and how class unity could transform the situation. A 24-hour general strike in 2021 would rock American society and set the stage for a further escalation of the class struggle.

Who can call a general strike and how would it be organized?

Strikes are effective when they shut down production, construction, transit, communications, distribution, services, etc. Along with its massive societal majority, the power of the working class derives from the fact that it alone does all the work that makes the world run. Withholding that labor causes the whole machinery of society to halt.

Insofar as every workplace requires a collective effort to operate, that power is not the power of an individual, but of the workers as a group. To entirely shut down an operation, all workers must participate as one. A strike is not an individualԒs choice to call out of work - listed as an option for how to participate on October 15 - which already happens every day for various reasons. Rather, it is a conscious, collective action to be planned, organized, discussed, and implemented by a significant majority in a workplace, industry, or society as a whole.

A serious call for a general strike, therefore, cannot be declared from outside the mass organizations of the working class, namely the trade unions. If the leaders of the AFL-CIO, or at least the leaders of some of the bigger unions set a date, organize, and mobilize for a general strike, it would have a greater chance at being successful and of winning the active support of many as-yet unorganized workers.

Those calling for a general strike this October 15 clearly have good intentionsbut they do not have the authority among the workers to get a serious echo among the class as a whole. Nonetheless, in the absence of influence in the mass organizations, the call and its accompanying demands can still serve an educational purpose.

The key is to understand that if the present union leaders will not provide what the working class needs, then another leadership must be constructed. Building an alternative will take time, but a first step would be to call on the trade union leaders to actually organize a general strike around a series of class demands. Those calling for the October 15 action could use the opportunity to start developing a network of workers who agree with the call and demands. This could be the beginning of a class-struggle network in the labor movement, which can build a class-struggle leadership over time.

Approaching it this way would unite the more serious and committed activists around a real program for change. The basic message should be that the task of changing society must be carried out by the working class itself. Especially coming out of a period of numerical decline of the labor movement, this educational aspect, far from an afterthought, is a key field of struggle. Doing this correctly, however, will require painstaking work and careful consideration.

What kinds of demands should be raised?

We applaud the fact that the October 15 call puts forward a series of demands. However, Marxists believe that demands should not only serve to expose the exploitation and injustice of life under capitalism, they should collectively point toward a clear solution: the need for a workers’ government, and in the case of the US, the urgent need for a workers party as a step in this direction.

Demands such as Free healthcare for all,Ӕ 12 weeks paid maternity leave,Ӕ four-day workweek,Ӕ and $20 minimum wageӔ are a good start, but are quite modest in the grand scheme of things. For example, a minimum wage of $24 an hour would just barely keep pace with productivity gains since the minimum wages peak purchasing power in the 1960s. And as far back as 1935, the bourgeois economist John Maynard Keynes argued that a three-day workweek was possible at that time, with no drop to existing labor productivity or profitability for the capitalists. Just think of what would be possible on the basis of the technical advances made since then!

Another demand is for a ғ25% corporate tax rate (No loopholes). This was effectively achieved in the US in the past without adversely affecting the fundamentals of capitalism. The corporate tax rate was nearly 53% during the 1960s, and until fairly recently stood at 35%. Through creative accounting, there will always be loopholes or other ways of avoiding the taxman. The real question is this: why allow them to keep any of it?
The ԓearnings being taxed are the surplus value created by the working class, which is appropriated by the capitalist class. In our view, the collective wealth generated by society as a whole should be owned, controlled, and administered by society as a whole. Instead of higher taxes, the workers should demand nationalization of the top 500 companies, to be run under democratic workersԒ control.

Socialist Revolution also demands full employment, a 20-hour week, and a minimum wage of $1,000 per week. Demands like this would expose capitalisms inability to provide a dignified life to the majority in the midst of material plenty. It would also show the kind of world thatҒs possible when the working class takes charge.

In addition to these demands, there should be explicitly political demands. Politics is concentrated economics, and for the working class to really change society, it needs political representation of its own. We should call on the labor leaders to stop supporting the political parties of the enemy class and initiate a party of the workers. A mass working-class socialist party could eventually win broad support and establish a workers government. The only way to stop the capitalists from doing what is in their interests is to break their power and throw out the entire system.

Who should run society?

General strikes occur more often than a US-centric perspective might lead one to believe. In Greece, France, and many other countries where the labor movement is stronger and the working class has historically been organized into mass parties, general strikes are fairly frequent occurrences. Unfortunately in practice, they rarely achieve their stated demands.

This is especially true if their aims or duration are limited in advance, as the capitalists can sit on their reserves and ride out the storm, while workers canҒt stay on strike forever. Furthermore, given the current state of the labor and left leadership, they often include only limited sectors of the economy, limit themselves to narrow demands, and are only half-heartedly mobilized. Far from posing the question of power, such strikes serve merely to “let off steam” without threatening the status quo.

A genuine general strike, however, in which a majority of the workers participate, poses a key question: who really runs society? An all-out general strike is part of the workers struggle to take decisive control of politics and the economy. It does not merely ask for reforms, but serves to unleash a new balance of social forces in the context of a pre- or fully revolutionary situation.

With the US labor movement on the back foot due to decades of class collaboration, and without a mass party of our own, a lot of groundwork must be laid and a lot of experiences had before a successful all-out general strike can take place. For example, a one-day general strike would serve as a dress rehearsal for the workers, a stepping stone toward more decisive action in the future. But even a one-day general strike is not something that can be improvised. But abstract calls for mass action will necessarily bring limited results - which can be demoralizing and push those who participate to draw incorrect, pessimistic conclusions.

It is with all of this in mind that we believe the call for a general strike on October 15 should be seen more as an educational opportunity than an all-out call to pose the question of power. We welcome the initiative of the comrades working on organizing towards October 15 and hope to work together to bring much-needed political and theoretical clarity to the working class.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 10/07/21 •
Section American Solidarity
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