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Political Eh-conomy: The lament for Canada’s middle class

I’ve been posting more sparsely lately for a number of external reasons but this should change soon I hope. For now, here is the first major piece I wrote for Ricochet. In some ways, it’s the obligatory piece on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, but really it’s my way of trying to think through the hand-wringing about Canada’s middle class. Below are the first couple of sections, read the rest here.

The US is in the throes of a debate about inequality: It’s the Waltons versus the Walmart workers on food stamps, the runaway rich in the 1 (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: Protecting the Public Trust? – Intersectional Analysis of Police Behaviour

Two very interesting articles about police conduct came out this week, particularly interesting if you juxtapose them.

Ferguson and the cult of compliance

In cases that seem very different, separated by factors such as age, race, gender, sexuality, geography, class and ability, police explain away their actions by citing noncompliance. They do it because it works. They do it because according to their beliefs, any sign of noncompliance is an invitation to strike.

First, we have to recognize the common denominators in many of these incidents: that people who die at the hands of the police don’t obey commands and (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: EU Advisors Advocate use of Military Against Strikes and Protests | Global Research

EU Advisors Advocate use of Military Against Strikes and Protests | Global Research.

 

Experts at a European Union (EU) think-tank are demanding that the EU prepare to put down strikes and protests with military force. Due to the deepening social inequality in a globalised economy and growing military conflicts within the EU’s borders, such outbursts will inevitably increase.

In the study by the European Union Institute for Security Studies, the authors bluntly state that in the face of these developments, the army will have to be used increasingly for policing duties to protect the rich from the anger of (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Rich people rule!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/04/08/rich-people-rule/

Filed under: Class, Democracy, Political Science, The State

Melissa Fong: Things I realize after getting many hater-comments & trolls: On #Intersectionality, #oppression & other stuff

Things I realize after getting many hater-comments and trolls: 1) The world is not ready for Critical Race Theory or talking about the process of “Whiteness” and “racialization”. I thought […]

Political Eh-conomy: Working class disarmed, Canadian redux

Looking at the prevalence of strikes in the US over the past six decades, Doug Henwood writes,

Second Amendment fetishism aside, there’s an old saying that the working class’s ultimate weapon is withholding labor through slowdowns and strikes. By that measure, the U.S. working class has been effectively disarmed since the 1980s.

Doug then produces a graph showing a precipitous decline in the number of strikes in the US involving more than 1000 workers starting about three decades ago. Intrigued, two thoughts quickly crossed my mind. First, as is often the case, I wanted to see whether the same (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: DTES Local Area Plan- Speaker #5, on Amendments

We need to respect the experiential knowledge of DTES residents that understand how the plan violates their security. Not fundamentally opposed to Vision- but you have to realize reality. If you insist on the ideology of “social mix” you also have to set up the circumstances for dignity of all people- not just a veil. I wanted to make clear: 60/40 Would only be acceptable if all of the 60% was at welfare rates Microsuites in principle are okay- perhaps we need to deal with smaller living spaces; however the sizes proposed are unliveable. Some of the most dense housing (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan- Summary

Like last time, I did some LiveTweeting of the evening- My strategy is to summarize the main point of all the voices; add in my OWN commentary (I can be […]

Melissa Fong: #25KLunch WINNERS Announced! Who said there’s no free lunch?

Other than the fact that I should win the best prize for dragging out a meme that would have otherwise had the life-span of a fruit fly… I’ve got some […]

Melissa Fong: Top 25 of #25KLunch Meme Finalists Announced!

  Okay, folks! The moment has come to see your Top 25 Finalists for the #25KLunch meme competition! I can’t even tell you how many messages I’ve received telling me […]

Melissa Fong: Financial reform: Taking responsibility as public servants and otherwise…

Facts: I don’t hate Vision Vancouver. I’m indifferent to the overall career of Gregor Robertson. I actually like Andrea Reimer, from what I know of her. (Confession: I really like […]

Melissa Fong: Admitting to not knowing until it was too late: The DTES Local Area Plan implications

…I admit that I didn’t know how REAL it was until the 3 days came to an end and even after it passed….

After that the reality sunk in, I got more and more angry as I realized the implications of the plan.

The fact is that poor people LIVE this. This is their reality. I come from a critical academic perspective and knew it was bad- but I’ve never experienced the feeling of ZERO safety net in my life- and most proponents or apolitical people about the plan probably won’t have experienced that either. So while we can ignore (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: #25kLunch Meme Competition Update #1

The #25KLunch meme has received more press than I would have ever imagined! Amazing what a group of really dedicated “mockticians” can do to bring the issues out there. #25KLunch […]

Parchment in the Fire: Low-Wage Workers Are Finding Poverty Harder to Escape – NYTimes.com

Low-Wage Workers Are Finding Poverty Harder to Escape – NYTimes.com.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — At 7 in the morning, they are already lined up — poultry plant workers, housekeepers, discount store clerks — to ask for help paying their heating bills or feeding their families.

And once Metropolitan Ministries opens at 8 a.m., these workers fill the charity’s 40 chairs, with a bawling infant adding to the commotion. From pockets and handbags they pull out utility bills or rent statements and hand them over to caseworkers, who often write checks — $80, $110, $150 — to patch over (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Britain’s five richest families worth more than poorest 20% | Business | The Guardian

Britain’s five richest families worth more than poorest 20% | Business | The Guardian.

The scale of Britain’s growing inequality is revealed by a report from a leading charity showing that the country’s five richest families now own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population.

Oxfam urged the chancellor George Osborne to use Wednesday’s budget to make a fresh assault on tax avoidance and introduce a living wage in a report highlighting how a handful of the super-rich, headed by the Duke of Westminster, have more money and financial assets than 12.6 million Britons put together.

The development (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: #25kLunch Meme Competition to shame Mayor Gregor Robertson’s partnership with Developers & Condo King Bob Rennie

So I’ve started a #25kLunch tag – the good people on twitter who have engaged throughout this whole process have kept spirits high and helped suggest a meme competition.

1) Create your own meme http://memegenerator.net/ 2) Upload your meme to twitter images (make sure you save image & upload to Twitter direct b/c it’s a lot easier to view). 3) And remember to TAG it with #25kLunch and tag me: @internationalmf

Melissa Fong: DTES LAP Amendments that Cllr Carr shuts down: Watch the speech & Read the full document by Reimer

I already posted snippets of the full documents (4 separate PDFs here). This post is specifically the first pdf Amendment doc from Reimer and the speaking points Cllr Carr was […]

Melissa Fong: Sneak Peak!: AMENDMENTS to DTES LAP- DRAFT sent to my by Andrea Reimer

Councillor Andrea Reimer was kind enough to send me the DRAFT of Downtown Eastside Local Area Plan Amendments. *OFFICIAL copy posted on website by staff tomorrow. This is a sneak […]

Melissa Fong: DTES LAP Part 3- Residents’ Losses & small victories

…Councillor Adriane Carr was the only one who wanted to refer the plan back to staff to ensure an acceptable definition of Social Housing (due date for end of May). The rest of City Council seemed fairly confident that that could be defined as we went along and the plan should just be passed, although Reimer made a few tearful speeches about understanding the harsh reality of living in the DTES and the implications of the LAP. There was a distinct feeling in the room that Andrea Reimer, Tony Tang and Elizabeth Ball seemed sympathetic to redefinition, but they didn’t (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: Vancouver DTES Local Area Plan City Council Debates- PART 2: CHINATOWN BUSINESS INTERESTS

Chinatown Businesses interests came into the room hesitant. I don’t think any of the mainstream news media (Vancouver Courier or the Straight) did justice to the hesitance … I am personally sympathetic towards Chinatown business interests because I know the exact memories and nostalgia upon which they recall and the commercial area they want to revive. You might not remember it if you weren’t in Chinatown during the 80s and 90s. … I’m not going to sit here and pretend that middle class residentialization in the DTES won’t increase business for Chinese businesses. It will. What I am going to say is (Read more…)

Melissa Fong: Vancouver DTES Local Area Plan City Council Debates- Part One: Developers

…One topic that dominated the DTES LAP discussions last night was the 60/40 (Social/ market rate housing split) and the definition of affordable housing … All the usual suspects always caution against social housing. Developers are constantly talking about how it is not possible to build social housing without other levels of government. They halt right there like a bratty child putting their foot down until they get they are promised candy. But developer “candy” is the bonus, or dessert atop a fortune they already make. I consistently don’t understand why everyone else in the world is expected to do their (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: We can’t all be workers: Putting inequality in the inequality debate

It’s easy to get confused about who is a worker and who isn’t these days. Your CEO may worker longer hours than you, not the top-hatted capitalist of the Monopoly board he. Indeed, it may seem that the leisure class of the turn of the last century has been replaced by the workaholic professional and managerial class of today. Yet, if everyone is a worker and no one is a capitalist, then how can we still be living under capitalism?

The short answer is we can’t…or, better yet, we are, which means that not everyone can be a worker, no (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Economic history in the present: The wage fund and the minimum wage

How many bushels of wheat do you make a year? While this is not the most relevant question to be asking about wages today, some of the discussion around the minimum wage is taking inspiration from a very old economic idea according to which questions like this would be right at home. The idea is that of a “wage fund”: a fixed amount of total wages available to an economy for a given period that dictates the average wage. If such a fund exists, then any aim to raise wages within the period for which the fund is fixed will (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. – NYTimes.com

The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. – NYTimes.com.

In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.

Filed under: Capitalism, Class, Class Formation, inequality Tagged: Capitalism, class, inequality, middle class

Song of the Watermelon: Bigotry Against the Rich: Is That a Thing?

So apparently the rich are an oppressed minority now.

Last month, in what is thought to have become the most widely read letter to the editor ever published by The Wall Street Journal, venture capitalist and former News Corp board member Tom Perkins writes, “I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’” He concludes, “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

In other words, mild resentment of (Read more…)