Hellhole: Week of 7/9

7.5 minute read

If Capitalism is a burglar, we need to be Kevin McCallister. This week we have an economic analysis of unions (good), a look into U.S. immigration policy (bad), and what’s … Read more

If Capitalism is a burglar, we need to be Kevin McCallister. This week we have an economic analysis of unions (good), a look into U.S. immigration policy (bad), and what’s the deal with the soda tax (?) – enter the Hellhole. Picture via futurism.com

Unions, They Work Folks

The economy is doing great, but as we all know that doesn’t mean much for anyone except billionaires. Nearly 15 percent of workers earn less than half of the median wage. Income inequality is the highest it’s been since the 1920s, and unions, folks, unions are in a bad spot with barely 1 in 10 workers in a union today down from high of nearly 1 in 3 in the 40’s and 50’s (for comparison, in Sweden union density was 69% in 2015-2017). Is it possible that all of this is somehow related?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is yes. A new study from Princeton and Columbia economists using data going back to the 1930s has quantified the effect that unions have on national inequality – and it’s substantial. But beyond the headline grabbing, “yes, unions reduce national inequality” a deep dig through the study reads as an interesting analysis of the working class throughout America’s history that gives us insight into how we must organize as socialists while union power recedes.

The study reveals that unions are at their strongest when they incorporate the largest number of low-wage workers from traditionally disadvantaged households (non-white, less educated) as opposed to the usual skilled trades and professional sectors. Quite simply, “when unions were at their peak and inequality at its nadir, disadvantaged households were much more likely to be union members than either before or since.”

More people in unions = high wages and less exploitation = more equality. Naturally, this analysis forgoes the assumption of a worker takeover of the means of production, however, if we are to advance organizationally in the broadest sense quickly, it would make sense to reach out to the largest unorganized working class – the service industry.

Freedom of movement for workers, refugees, and families should be guaranteed.

The non-stop horror of decades of failed and violent immigration policy has made families less safe. It’s a blitzkrieg, a mob rush on basic human decency, all for the sake of enforcing borders for borders’ sake. It’s absurd and, no Senator Sanders, we won’t simply replace ICE someday. The idea being sold is the problem, not just it’s implementation. We know that ICE is preparation for something likely far worse, far more inconceivable.

Reports of ICE collaboration came out just this week and included everything from the landlords at your local mall to pre-med students being asked to play a role in the deportation carnage machine. More locally, an ICE official who stole identities and cash from immigrants faced criminals penalties. However, we know that the workers here on temporary work visas are being stolen from and pressured to accept poverty, lest the bosses call in the ICE-holes. Workers like Honesto Silva Ibarra experienced this first-hand, as his fellow workers attested they were pressured to work until they were on their literal deathbed.

Deportation is theft, coercion, and murder. It’s violence upon violence for the sake of imaginary lines dividing workers to keep them in check. When we demand ICE be abolished, it’s not to spin it off into CBP or DHS, it’s to abolish the rotten deal being sold to workers and not just its packaging.

¡Chinga la migra!

Soda Taxes are Whack, but are Soda Companies Whackier?

What a conundrum. We know that soda taxes are regressive and, quite truly, stupid ways to raise revenue. We also know that the people hit hardest by theses taxes are not the rich (lattes and their additives are excluded). Anti-tax Initiative 1634 would prevent local governments in Washington from doing what we did here and taxing sweetened beverages, but it’s also been backed by $4.7 million in soda company payola to get on the ballot.

On the one hand, this regressive tax is one of many in a state without an income tax. Washington has set a standard for consistently disadvantaging the poor while corporations like Amazon walk away scot-free. But this is a bill modeled after several other ALEC (shady business cum legislative group) initiatives that seek to limit the freedom of citizens in municipalities by granting more far-reaching powers to the state in favor of corporations.

In St. Louis, the State of Missouri LOWERED their minimum wage through preemption after the city raised it from $10 from $7.70. And beyond the “Show Me” state, preemption has been unleashed repeatedly on a number of issues from sick leave in Milwaukee to fair scheduling in Georgia.

Is preemption something that we want to bring to Washington through a multi-million dollar corporate-funded initiative that will set a precedent for years to come, where the state is allowed to supersede our political will? Or do we want to continue to push the city and our Councillors to fight for progressive taxation the way they did with the progressive income tax on high earners?

Tired of watching the horrors with immigrant detention? Take Action!

There’s a mariachi demonstration at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma from 1:30 – 4:00 PM on Saturday. Requests include prepared food for families, singing voices, and comfortable shoes. Chanclas welcome but not required.


? Get involved with Seattle Democratic Socialists of America ?

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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.