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The modern supermarket, with its promise of a limitless variety of food and household goods available for low prices, is the crown jewel of consumer capitalism. The cornerstone of all retail, the supermarket holds a seemingly permanent place in the canon of American life, yet barely appears in the broader discourse, even in discussions about our food habits. It’s not unusual to debate the ethics involved with farming and food production, or to ponder the pros and cons of nonlocal food distribution, but the fact that the products will be on the shelves tomorrow and the next day is taken for granted. Virtually nobody knows how this happens, and even diligent corporate watchdogs are unaware of the existence of C&S Wholesale Grocers, which recently became the world’s largest grocery distributor.
This is no accident, and it is unlikely to change…Read full article.
SCOTUS’ real lesson this week: The law is not your friend | 7/3/14
In the wake of Monday’s anti-union Supreme Court decision in Harris v. Quinn, I’ve been reminded of when I discovered organized labor as a small child. From an early age, I’ve been enthralled with the idea of the strike. To date, all of the gains made by working people have required a healthy disregard for the law. Any future rejuvenation of the labor movement is going to require the same.
The lesson: For workers, the law is not your friend.
Pinning the blame on the conservatism of the Roberts court is cheap analysis when it’s the nature of the court itself that stands in opposition to the interests of the working class…Read full article.
Why spiritual leaders must champion workers’ rights | 3/27/14
In a daily mass last month, Pope Francis spoke of joy as a major aspect of Christian identity. “It’s the style of a Christian,” he said, quoting St. Augustine, “‘Go, go forward, singing and walking!’” True enough. All of us, religious or not, could benefit from a bigger bounce in our steps.
If only it were that easy. What of the many for whom the circumstances of daily life make skipping and singing difficult or impossible? It’s a question Pope Francis himself seems to take seriously: he goes out in disguise at night to hang out with homeless people and rearranges his schedule in order to talk with random Italian prisoners. But while the destitute and the imprisoned are most obviously in need of aid, there is a much larger, much more ordinary group that remains almost entirely neglected by the ministry of the faith community: workers.
For average workers, being reminded of the spiritual joy that is glaringly absent from their lives…Read full article.
Immigrant Children Flophouse Blues | 8/19/14
Since last October, US Customs and Border Protection has apprehended over 50,000 children along the southeast border. That’s more than double the usual number, and some believe it could double again before the end of the year. The children have traveled, unaccompanied by their parents, from Central America – primarily from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
What can certainly be described as a logistical dilemma is by no means is it a moral one. When talking about 50,000 brave children with no parents, no money, no food, and no homes, it shouldn’t matter where they came from. The only decent, humane, and even civilized response is to provide them with food, permanent shelter, and ensure that they are cared for. Unless Social Darwinism counts, I know of no moral code in the world that would suggest otherwise.
Naturally, when it comes to basic morality, the political right wing continues to defy the imagination. Some God-and-country-and-family types seem ready to riot…Read full article.
Toward a Moral Massachusetts | 5/1/14
Progressives in North Carolina have a thing or two to teach us here in Massachusetts.
It gives me no pleasure to say such a thing, and I’m certainly not about to suggest we give up saying “wicked” in favor of “y’all.” But if you haven’t heard of the Moral Monday protests that began almost a year ago in Raleigh and have begun to spread across the south, it’s time to start paying better attention. This is a state we often dismiss as belonging to the conservative south. They may have gone blue for Obama in ’08, but 2012 told a different story with the states electors going to Romney and the governorship and state legislature falling decisively into republican hands.
Yet it’s in North Carolina, of all places, that faith leaders, labor activists, groups like the NAACP, and others on the political left have made their stand…Read full article.
Think Bigger…Paychecks | 2/10/14
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator, the minimum hourly wage required to meet the basic needs of a family of four in Massachusetts is $21.31. For an individual to meet his or her basic needs, at least $11.31 per hour is needed.
At $8 per hour, the state minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25, but still only ranks as third highest in New England, behind Connecticut’s $8.25 and Vermont’s $8.60. Working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, with no sick time or vacations, that’s a gross annual income of $16,640, barely above the poverty line. In fact, according to the MIT calculator, $8 per hour is actually well below the $10.60 “poverty level” for a family of four. Worse, it hasn’t been raised in six years.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, having led the nation on issues such as gay marriage and comprehensive health reform, can do better…Read full article.
Ten things every millennial should know before entering the corporate hellscape | 12/5/13
For today’s college graduates eager to get out there and make some loot, decent jobs that compensate you fairly, treat you with respect, and assign tasks only mildly soul-crushing do exist… but then again, so do cyclopses. (FYI, you probably don’t want to click that link.) From my limited personal experience (and many unverifiable anecdotes), I can report that there are some decent jobs out there, but you’re probably not going to get one without connections and at least a little bit of luck. If your dad or your uncle is some corporate bigshot, then you’re probably already set, and this advice won’t apply. But for everyone else, take it from an old-timer Millennial (’84, baby!): relying on luck is no substitute for preparation and open eyes. And to help you along on that journey, here are the Ten Things Every Millennial Should Know Before Joining the Corporate Hellscape…Read full article.