About the header photo: Fox News’ Kennedy called Seattle a “socialist hellhole” in a July 12 broadcast. We wish!
The sun rises, the sun sets…a little later, a little earlier, this time of year. People get sick and can begin to get disoriented from the lack of light and daylight savings or temperature changes. But should one get too confused, one can set their watch by capital’s continued malign influence upon the folks whose labor it exploits, from Alphabet’s women employees, to Boeing’s worker having slipped through the cracks into death and a lobby group receiving money from and pumping cash back into a political system that serves itself. But not all is lost when solidarity is found; tattoo THAT on yourself. Happy Friday…this is the Hellhole.
Exploitation is Bad for Business
Investors in major companies are beginning to realize that failing to offer their employees the benefits they deserve is bad.
Before you cheer, read this quote from investing firm Arjun Capital: “Today, Alphabet is under fire for its lack of transparency on gender-pay equity, making it subject to federal, class action, and shareholder actions”. Turns out discriminating against your employees can be expensive if you get sued for it! Another choice quote from investing firm Zevin: “We want to focus on companies that are managing human capital (read: the drones that create our profit, or “you, the reader”) appropriately and attuned to investing in women’s career paths. Such a big divide between headquarters and the front-line workforce can erode morale (read: lead to expensive lawsuits, walkouts, and unions).”
It’s important to remember that forces that serve capital (like investment firms) are only going to provide pressure when it impacts their bottom line, and investors are much more likely to provide pressure to reduce your benefits than they are to ask companies to improve them. The only thing that really builds worker power is unionization. Solidarity forever, comrades!
Roger Sanders is remembered by his wife, Julie Braunschweig, as an “old-fashioned man” who was both “rugged and tender.” She said he would even wake her in bed every morning with a cup of coffee after he finished his night shift at a Boeing plant in South Seattle. One morning, he didn’t come home.
His death at the plant is detailed in a Seattle Times story that says it took more than hour for Sanders, who was 60, to get to a hospital after falling backwards and hitting his head. The lag time is despite the fact the company claims it has one of the largest private fire departments in the United States (and because it’s private, the department doesn’t have to release information about incident responses to the public). The report also notes Boeing didn’t even bother to report the incident to the Department of Labor and Industries, instead leaving it to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. And all of this happened while Boeing touts a shiny new workplace safety program it rolled out last year, which manages to pay corporate lip-service to employee safety while letting a man slowly die from a head injury on a factory floor for an hour and 24 minutes.
Perhaps Boeing and its C-suite team are too busy playing nice with President Trump to actually care about employee safety and well-being.
Friends Helping Friends
In a move that should surprise literally no one, it turns out that Tim Burgess made a sizable donation ($5,000) to the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s PAC (CASE) two weeks before he became mayor. CASE has (also unsurprisingly) funded positive ads for Jenny Durkan’s campaign ($86,000), spent $150,000 on Burgess during his 2015 campaign, and currently has half a million dollars just lying around. For no particular reason, do you ever wonder how many people $500,000 would house or feed?
Reminders are important: capital only helps those who serve it, and plenty of Seattle politicians serve capital. The Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want to materially improve the lives of Seattle citizens. Politicians funded by the Chamber may say they want to make Seattle better, but that message rings a little hollow when you have hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital’s money in your pocket. Guess who hasn’t accepted any money from the Chamber of Commerce?
Seattle’s Puerto Rican community rallies to help
Good things happen, and when they do, they are worth celebrating. On Sunday, hundreds from the city’s Puerto Rican community and others gathered in Ballard for a hurricane-relief benefit for the disaster-ravaged country.
The grassroots gathering was one of hundreds across the United States, and volunteers have helped send first aid kits, direct financial aid and other supplies to the country. Much of the island nation still lacks power, clean water and telecommunication. “We want people on the island to know that they are not alone,” Gaby Bergollo, a volunteer and event attendee, told the Seattle Globalist. “There are a lot of people here in the Pacific Northwest, 4,000 miles away, who are doing everything we can to help.”
Community support for Puerto Rico will be increasingly important as the country’s ongoing recovery effort continues, and especially since President Trump doesn’t seem to realize the country is a U.S. territory that is entitled to the full financial support of the U.S government.
- If you’d like to help Puerto Rico locally, consider attending this Halloween fundraiser at Hellbent Brewing, dancing the day away at this fundraiser in Tacoma, or donating to and attending this discussion-based fundraiser on how U.S. colonialism has directly resulted in the country’s current crisis.
A Friendly Visit
In case you hadn’t heard, the Washington Policy Center (whose motto is “Improving lives through market solutions”) is hosting Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at a gala where the minimum ticket price is $350. You can probably guess how the Seattle DSA feels about this, but in case you don’t know much about DeVos, she’s championed charter schools, minimized campus sexual assault, and is also a literal billionaire.
- If you’d like to visit this gathering of rich people who would absolutely love to gut the public school system in order to make more money for private individuals, perhaps you’d like to join some like-minded people at the gala.
(Socialist) Seattleites: Don’t listen to this terrible advice
Participating in democracy can be difficult and time-consuming, but luckily, socialism offers a pretty nifty cheat-sheet to evaluate candidates running for office. As socialists, we envision a world where every person is accorded equal worth in all areas of life, not just in their capacity as a worker or a consumer or a voter, and where everyone has the freedom and the ability to live with dignity. In short, we’re building a world where the value of equality is taken seriously. Is the candidate iffy about any of that? Yikes, don’t vote for them! Is the candidate on board with all that? Hell yeah, then definitely vote for them!
What you should definitely not do, though, is treat politics like a personality contest, which is what this opinion piece last week in The Evergrey suggests. The piece is propped up by the false ideas that voters are A. stupid and B. need to become boring, tedious policy wonks on all kinds of topics that directly impact their lives, such as affordable housing, healthcare and not being afraid of dying at the hands of police. In fact, the piece goes on to allege that even trying to become knowledgeable in any of these areas is “disrespectful” to the policy wonks themselves. ?
Your friends at Hellhole are here to tell you that because you are a human who lives in this community, you are more than qualified to vote based on your own lived experience. You don’t need to be told by wonks or spreadsheets or means-tested programs about what works or doesn’t work, and you most certainly should not vote for whichever politician gives the shiniest answers to a superficial questionnaire that sounds like it was written for a tacky corporate leadership retreat.
The end of the piece posits a question: Is saner politics possible? Our answer: Yes, and we can get there by voting more democratic socialists, who offer bold, uncompromising visions of a better life for all, into office.
Class enemy of the week: This tattoo
DSA is a big tent, and as such, we love and accept all manner of tattoos. Except, maybe, this one. In the future, phones will be so expensive that we’ll all have to disfigure our bodies with branding to afford a phone, despite the fact that according to one estimate, the cost to manufacture an iPhone has only increased by $17 since Apple started manufacturing the phones in 2007.
One final thought: Amazon has repeatedly blocked attempts by warehouse workers across the country to unionize, and now it’s taking those tactics to try and cut benefits for journalists at The Washington Post. If you’d like to learn more about the collective power of unions, or how to possibly start one in your own workplace, attend a Workplace Organizing Collective. And to Jeff Bezos: When the revolution comes, we’re expropriating your $84 billion first.