Hellhole – Week of 8/6

8.4 minute read

People talk about inequality like it’s some sort of market aberration. It’s not. It’s just worker exploitation. This week we have stories about REAL estates, them public employee scabs, so-called … Read more

People talk about inequality like it’s some sort of market aberration. It’s not. It’s just worker exploitation. This week we have stories about REAL estates, them public employee scabs, so-called “right to work,” and banks – what are they good fer?

Seattle, more luxury apartments than sense

As Jeff Stein pointed out this week in the Washington Post, cities like Seattle built so much luxury housing and so little of anything else following the recession that prices on swanky apartments and condos are actually going down, while the cost of normal housing for the working class continues to increase.

The YIMBY axiom that more density at any cost is the solution to our housing woes has been in line with the thinking of city hall and the belief that eventually the affordability would somehow trickle down. Turns out that the type and cost of housing we build matters just as much as the amount of it.

Although the urbanist may refute, “the system is working as intended, luxury housing costs are going down.” It’s still not affordable. Though the average luxury unit’s rent has fallen $142, that still doesn’t make a $3,000 a month apartment suddenly within the budget of your average service worker making $15 an hour.

As developers race to build luxury condos, the cost of a studio apartment has increased by nearly 40% in the last 5 years. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the average worker in the Seattle metro area would need to make over $36/hr to afford a 2-bedroom apartment.

To bring it all back to current events, will saving the Showbox downtown mean that we will never have affordable housing? As Lester Black at The Stranger points out, “no.” In fact, we probably have too much luxury housing as it is. The editors of The Hellhole suggest that we take a page out of Jeremy Corbyn’s book and kill two birds with one stone. Let’s nationalize and occupy the vacant luxury units and solve the problem today.

Rage Corner: Class Enemy of the Week: Any Scabs (but especially in Washington)

The fallout of the Janus ruling has reached Washington. Six scab public sector employees are suing to leave the Washington Federation of State Employees after enjoying the goods. The excuse? They claim they didn’t realize they signed a contract.

A union is like a battering ram. You can’t operate it by yourself, but if everyone hears the call, workers united and coordinated can smash the dictators out of office.

Dissatisfied with your union? Don’t be a scab. Attend one of Seattle DSA’s workplace organizing collective meetings, now available in Central Seattle and South King County, or see what other unions are doing.

Show Me Something

For the first time since the old times, a state has vehemently rejected so-called “right to work.” That state was Missouri. On Tuesday, in a wave of primary elections that may see “known socialist” Sarah Smith enter the final election, voters went out and decided they were sick of getting screwed over.

What is “right to work?” A lot of folks mistakenly use the term when they actually mean “at will employment” as in “hey, I just got fired even though my boss is a huge jerk, but XYZ is a right to work state.” The truth is that every state in America is an at-will state. Your boss can fire you anytime for, basically, any reason – unless you have a contract.

A “right-to-work” state, misleading as the title may seem, is a remnant of the Taft-Hartley Act in which employees are legally barred from bargaining with their employers to require all rank-and-file workers to be members of a union.

Why is it an issue? Like the Janus decision, that made all public employees “right to work,” it allows non-members of a union to reap all the benefits of a union contract without paying dues or giving any time/money/attention to bargaining for pay and benefits. It’s a scab clause that benefits the boss alone. Thankfully, the law doesn’t apply to mass worker uprisingsthe only strike that is illegal is the one that fails.

In America, banks rob you.

On their best days, private banks have the integrity of leftover turkey gizzard resting in a rancid mason jar in the hot summer sun while you’re on vacation (they gross). We’ve seen chickenshit politicians promise to crackdown on the banks for decades. The 2009 crisis saw the largest theft of black wealth in generations. Barack Obama shirked any meaningful fix and underwrote banks further while Trump is bent on deregulating every modest reform that came out of that crisis.

What can cities, counties, and even states do to take back what’s stolen by Wall Street?

Fair question. A public bank would be a good fix. Keep the money in state and not on costly ecological disasters to start. The banks are middlemen, racist and classist arbiters of what is allowed in our society.

Should we trust corporations designed to make the maximum amount of money from money? Or should we decide democratically, on the local level, to control our own finance?

If you’ve read this far join us this Sunday for a Medicare for All Town Hall


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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.