The Hellhole – Week of 3/11

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Picture of pills with the words "Seattle Hellhole" and subtitle "Abolish Ice; End the Wall; Medicare for All, Y'All"
Picture of pills with the words “Seattle Hellhole” and subtitle “Abolish Ice; End the Wall; Medicare for All, Y’All”
The Hellhole – Week of March 11, 2019 Audio Recording

Northwest Detention Center Resistance celebrates five years of fighting for immigrant rights

This past Sunday in Tacoma, Northwest Detention Center Resistance celebrated their 5th anniversary of fighting for and as people surviving unjust detainment and slavery-like conditions at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). NWDCR will also change their name to La Resistencia.

The event featured reflections of the past, present, and future of the group’s organizing efforts, a painful, personal account from a previous detainee who had spent over a year in solitary, and a call from a current detainee at NWDC thanking those assembled for their solidarity.  There was also quite a bit of levity, with banging music, flamenco dancers, and a wealth of children and cute dogs running around the street and having more fun than anyone probably has in that place in many years. DSA had a solid showing — of the ~150 people in attendance, 14 folks hailed from our group!  Much thanks to those who organized carpools and helping bring folx down to stand up for workers’ dignity and freedom to migrate.

If you’d like to learn more about NWDC, our broken immigration system, and what you can do to resist it in Seattle, come out to the next Immigration Justice Working Group meeting — Saturday, March 23, noon-2pm at the Capitol Hill Branch Library — or get in touch with us at a future general meeting or at [email protected].

Capitalism Ruins Healthcare

Washington State Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the most aggressively paced, well-defined version of Medicare for All in the final week of February. It was drafted with seniors, nurses, doctors, people with disabilities, and more at the table. The issue enjoys popular support from a majority of self-identifying Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. The time has come. However, the measure faces an uphill battle within Democratic Party ranks. Per Gritpost, Pharma and Insurance gave $43m to 130 House Democrats so that they will who are not backing Medicare-for-All.

Corporate bosses will likely ultimately side with health insurers out of fear of corporate taxes. Tying employment to healthcare also keeps many people from leaving their job. When people with diabetes see insulin jump 270% in a decade, you guarantee people stay in jobs they hate in order to stay alive.

The exploitation is not just from insurers. The top five pharmaceutical and biotech firms made over $59,700,000,000 in profit in 2018 while crashing state Medicaid budgets. Pharma hires two lobbyists per member of Congress, and it’s not just them. Hospitals and healthcare groups gouge patients intentionally as part of the grift, and average half a billion lobbying every year.

Medicare for all: no exceptions for race, class, immigration status, or gender. Comprehensive reproductive and abortion coverage. Either we all get ahead of these mobsters of capital or we all get stomped by their loafers.

And speaking of healthcare…

Low HP

The deceptively complicated indie videogame Dwarf Fortress (official title: Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress) has been a sleeper hit over the last decade. While its abstract text-based graphics suggest a simple 80s role-playing game, under the hood byzantine algorithms simulate the rise & fall of civilizations and intricate formulae calculate the geology, meteorology, and ecology of an entire fantasy world. It’s the on-going project of brothers Tam & Zach Adams of Silverdale, WA, who have been adding to its procedurally-generated universe since 2006 ─ creating a game so complex & unique that it was selected to be displayed in the Museum of Modern Art.

The brothers’ business Bay 12 Games made waves this week after announcing that a paid, enhanced version of Dwarf Fortress would soon be available for purchase on the Steam & itch.io platforms. Previously the software had just been a free download hosted on the company’s website, with the option to support the creators via donations.

A darker subtext behind the new edition soon emerged. In a development update, Tam revealed that the more commercial direction of the series was a decision partially arrived at due to concern over their healthcare expenses.

“We have other family health risks, and as we get older, the precariousness of our situation increases; after Zach’s latest cancer scare, we determined that with my healthcare plan’s copay etc., I’d be wiped out if I had to undergo the same procedures.  That said, crowdfunding is by far our main source of income and the reason we’re still here. Your support is still crucial, as the Steam release may or may not bring us the added stability we’re seeking now and it’s some months away.”

Dwarf Fortress Developers

Under for-profit healthcare, the fear of paralyzing debt or total bankruptcy constantly hangs over all our heads. The Adams brothers’ situation isn’t completely bleak, but how many people have had to put aside all creative pursuits because of medical debt? This isn’t something people in any other developed nation have to grapple with, and neither should we.

Up north, Snohomish DSA is holding a Medicare For All canvass in Bothell on the 30th. Hope to see you there, gamers.

Gutting health programs to demonize immigrants is a far-right tactic in the class war.

Trump’s reactionary budget has the GOP salivating. Trillions in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. All effective programs when created but, thanks to decades of assault, are on the brink of privatization or means-testing into oblivion.

Republicans are already working to divert $385 million from health programs for the needy into programs to cage children on the border. Make no mistake. Trump’s tax cut blew up the debt and deficit. Trump’s budget brings in the austerity and seeks to shoulder the blame on a fake and racist border crisis. It’s cynical. It’s evil. It’s another round fired by capitalists at all workers in the class war.

Republicans want a purge. Neocon David Frum is in The Atlantic calling on liberals to join in, dog-whistling that “Americans are entitled to consider carefully whom they will number among themselves” and “If liberals don’t enforce borders, fascists will.” The heck with that.

Screw the bosses and the nihilist profiteers of American empire: Stand with immigrants. We have much more in common with the immigrant overstaying a visa with family than techlords in Medina. Night Court alumnus Marsha Warfield put it best:

Amazon used one weird trick to exempt its workers from labor protections: It’s overarching power over Democrats

Speaking of tech exploiting immigrants, local giant Amazon convinced the Democratic-majority in the Washington State Legislature to exempt Amazon workers from new labor protections against non-compete clauses. It’s cynical and helps them further monopolize tech talent. Giving Amazon exactly what they want is very typical Democratic® behavior all around.

If anyone needs regulation it’s Amazon, the company whose workplaces led to:

And that’s just the past six months, folx.

Puget Sound Energy wants to build a fracking pipeline into the Salish Sea.

Fracking is where fluids are pumped into the ground to bring oil to the surface. It’s fast, crude, and polluting. It devastates local freshwater supplies, increases the likelihood of earthquakes, threatens wild salmon and orca, and violates Native and local community sovereignty. Standing Rock, anyone?

Puget Sound Energy is currently held up by Snohomish County Planning review. You can shift the tide by showing up to their meetings or by mailing public comment.


Note: The Seattle Hellhole represents the views of its writers and does not represent official positions of Seattle DSA at large. Its writers are a collective working on independent pieces, editing, and design to deliver this each week. If you want to volunteer, join us in #wg_comms_design on Slack or email [email protected]