Friday, September 27, 2013

The Great Sarah Kendzior Catch-Up!

I had been avoiding Sarah Kendzior for weeks, no, months. Not the person, but the writer. I knew if I went to her blog and read her latest work for Aljazeera English I would get steamrolled by a heady mix of emotions and enter a state of permanent agitation. That is the power of her research and writing. Her prose is effective and clear, even aphoristic. She crystallizes complex suffering and ignites a productive anguish under the feet of the reader, a kind of rage that pulsates, that doesn't want just answers, but solutions - and a fight.

However, reading her work can be a risky affair because her texts are heavily hyperlinked, leading to a long chain of detours that's hard to resist. By the time I have recovered any sense of time or space I am hours into a righteous tailspin, consumed by one good piece of writing after the next. But I can't stop myself because Kendzior and others are speaking truth to power, to the fundamental injustices of our economic system, an increasingly aristocratic system that transpires to enrich the richest at the expense of the rest.

These days we labor harder than ever, productivity is up, profits are up, executive compensation is up - but workers' wages are down. For decades they have flat-lined. Wealth is not distributed (in any sense of the word) in this society, it is hoarded, stockpiled and locked away by the captains of industry and finance, despite the fact that such a cruel, unsparing picture is at odds with our deepest sensibilities as individuals and as a people. As Kendzior writes:
Based on data from a 2011 study, the video showed that most Americans seek a more equitable distribution of wealth than what they believe exists - but that the reality of income inequality is far worse than they had imagined. When income was graphed, the middle class was barely distinguishable from the poor. 80 percent of Americans have 7 percent of the nation's wealth, while 1 percent of Americans have 40 percent of the nation's wealth.
Here's the video, based on the Harvard study, that went viral:

Forbes notes:
A recent YouTube video that went viral brings home just how stark the wealth gap in America has become. According to the video, almost all of us perceive the wealth distribution as unfair, and 92% of the 5,000 Americans polled think that it should be more equitable – Republicans and Democrats alike. That’s nothing new. 

However, what is striking is the vast disparity between what the average American believes the wealth gap to be, and what it actually is. The reality in graphic form shows that the bottom 40% barely register, and the top 1 percent already own more of the wealth than most Americans think the top 20% should own in a fair society.

Our own exploitation is being normalized. Where are our economic rights? Our healthcare rights? Our educational rights? Economic inequality (The Movie!) is reaching a dangerous tipping point in American history, and new terms signal new defeats: precariat, permatern, etc. We are in trouble, a trouble etched into my own being as a precariat currently engaged in a demoralizing race-to-the-bottom just to save enough money to say my goodbyes and pursue an affordable education abroad.

So in order to exorcize these demons and spur catharsis I am going to return to blogging (as if my presence was missed lol) and narrow my focus to the economy, this prestige economy, as Kendzior puts it. At least this way, insha'allah, I can sleep at night while sharpening my senses during the light hours.

Warning: hyperlink party ahead!

"Zero opportunity employers"
The recent death of an impoverished adjunct professor in the US highlights the broader case for workers' rights.

A US Senate panel's attempt to define 'journalist' pleases some and dismays others.

"Mothers are not 'opting out' - they are out of options"
In the United States, mothers are increasingly finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.

"The American dream: Survival is not an aspiration"
Equal opportunity and upward mobility is a long-lost American Dream.

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