Spring has sprung (supposedly), and our discontent blooms as bright as the cherry blossoms. This week we have stories about demonstrations for workers’ rights, a brief reprieve in the war on renters, some thoroughly unsurprising healthcare news, and more – welcome to the Hellhole.
Domestic Workers Are Workers
In order to exploit workers outside of the home, capitalism demands that the reproductive labor inside the home be carried out for no wage, or if the household is wealthy enough to afford to pay someone else, a very low wage. The vast majority of these paid domestic workers end up being women, people of color and immigrants, both documented and not. This places them at greater risk for wage theft, sexual harassment and other abuses. Even worse, legislation to protect “workers”, such as the Nation Labor Relations Act, has in the past explicitly excluded domestic workers, showing how easily wedges can be driven between sections of the working class.
“I’ve been working as a domestic worker 40 years, facing abuse, discrimination, sexual harassment…this Bill of Rights is going to change a lot of lives” – Gilda Blanco of National Domestic Workers Alliance @domesticworkers pic.twitter.com/onaRON9ioQ
— Working Washington (@workingwa) March 15, 2018
On Monday, Seattle domestic workers demonstrated at City Hall and went to City Council Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee to tell their stories and call for a domestic worker’s bill of rights in the city. This would bring Seattle in line with several other states and municipalities and is a step towards ending the injustices these workers face.
Socialists must stand together will all workers and be cognizant of the unique oppressions faced by sections of the working class. Capitalism will divide us however it can. We must stand together, break the barriers placed between us through solidarity and understanding and fight for the socialist future together.
Healthcare is a Land of Contrasts
Oh, goodness, no! Such terrible news! Have you heard? Democratic stalwart Senator Patty Murray’s plan to save healthcare didn’t make it into the spending bill in the Senate! Our last hope, dashed!
Wait, what’s this here about it being a “bipartisan” effort… You mean, bipartisan between the party that utterly failed to enact a public option and the party that believes that poor people should only be allowed to exist as blood and organ farms for the wealthy? That’s… odd. And wait, isn’t Senator Murray heavily funded by the same pharmaceutical industry that jacks up prices on life-saving medications and has flooded our communities with overprescribed and deadly opioids? Okay, this might not have been the panacea we thought it was 23 seconds ago. As it turns out, a patch job for the ACA is probably not what it will take to save healthcare in the United States. If only there were something with broad popular support that would guarantee care to all, without means-testing, deductibles, or co-pays. If only, if only…
If it’s a bit hard to imagine – and if you’ve lived with the, er, unique healthcare system of the United States your whole life, it probably is – perhaps it would help to hear from some professionals. Join Seattle DSA, UW YDSA, UW ISO, and Students for a National Health Program on March 31 for “A Cure for What Ails Us,” a panel discussion on how Medicare for All would play out in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, you will still have to visit the dentist, even if it’s free. We really can’t have it all.
Escalators, Streetcars, and [No] Automobiles
In mixed metaphor news, local stopped clock Danny Westneat has finally hit a bullseye with his latest column. Fed up with South Lake Union traffic, particularly delays for transit that should be whisking our precious Amazon employees about hither-and-thither without obstacle, Westneat suggests banning cars from the neighborhood. If you’ve ever attempted to ride the 8 during rush hour (or if you’ve given up and walked past a series of 8s stalled in traffic), it’s certainly tempting. Maybe it’s time we started considering how to design without cars, rather than around them.
In other transit news, an escalator broke down at the UW Link Station – and somewhat more spectacularly, so did Sound Transit’s ability to cope with it. We also learned that the very same budget bill that so thoughtlessly omitted Senator Murray’s bandaid-over-the-gaping-wound-of-for-profit-healthcare will likely retain the funding for the Lynnwood Link extension that was feared lost. Now, if Washington State Democrats could just stop sabotaging ST3 funding for a few years, we might just get that line finished on time.
Tech Ghouls Temporarily Driven Back
In a time when owning a house becomes an impossible dream for so many people, rents are skyrocketing squeezing people’s budgets if not forcing them into homelessness, we can always count on predatory capitalists to try to find new ways to deepen the problem. Enter websites like Rentberry and Biddwell, which landlords can use to run auctions for housing and only rent to the highest bidder. Landlords already hold all of the power and we don’t need a website to give them even more leverage in exchange for a cut of the profit. There is little more to say than look at this asshole, trying to say how the problem is government when his website contributes to driving up rents by 5 percent in cities like San Jose and San Francisco that are already unaffordable to everyone but the richest of the rich.
In a surprising moment of favoring people over profit, the Seattle City Council placed a one-year moratorium on rent bidding platforms in the city. This is in part to make sure that they would not violate the first-in-time law that says that a landlord must rent to the first person qualified for it. This law passed a couple years ago to fight against issues such racial, sexual orientation and source of income discrimination.
The moratorium can be extended by another year, so let’s hope that the corporate enthusiast wing of the council doesn’t return to their natural state and welcome rent bidding into the city. Instead in one year, we should be taxing big business for at least 150 million dollars from EHT and other progressive taxes to build housing and provide services to the people who need it. The problem isn’t government, it is capitalism and treating housing as a commodity to be bargained instead of a human right.
Warmongering Racist Picks Warmongering Racist for National Security Advisor
March 20th marked the 15th anniversary of the illegal, imperialist invasion of Iraq, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the ruin of so many more lives. To mark the occasion, Trump has decided to appoint a Bush era horror, John Bolton, as the replacement for the departing H.R. McMaster. Bolton, briefly appointed to be the US Ambassador to the UN in spite of having said “There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States, when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along”, manages to still rise out as an odious member of the cast of war criminals and horrors of those awful days. Seriously, fuck this guy.
Socialists must stand together against the racist and imperialist actions that will likely be expanded and accelerated under Trump with his new advisor. Follow Seattle DSA’s Anti-War caucus to find out what you can do to push back against capitalist war.
In other news:
Seattle DSA has been (and continues) raising money for abortion access through the Northwest Abortion Access Fund Trivia-Thon! We at the Hellhole are pleased to announce that the Seattle Strike Action* team has smashed their initial goal of $1,919 with a month left to go – and with DSA teams currently holding four of the top ten spots nationwide, they’re in good company! Won’t you visit their fundraising page and toss them some socialist cash to beat the anti-choice trash?
*The fundraisers are bowl-a-thons everywhere else in the country, and bowling puns are much easier than trivia ones.
And coming up next Saturday, March 31, join Seattle DSA and our co-sponsors for two exciting panel discussions:
A Cure for What Ails Us: Medicare for All and the Future of Health
Allen Auditorium, UW-Seattle, 2:00-3:30pm
Educators in Revolt: Solidarity With Oklahoma!
Seattle Labor Temple, 4:00-6:00pm
We hope to see you there!
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Hellhole is written by members of the Seattle DSA communications team. Unless expressly stated, Dispatches do not necessarily reflect the views of Seattle DSA as an organization or its leadership.