Sunday, March 26, 2017

Two million voters

The nasty guy has approved the Keystone Pipeline, a project his predecessor blocked. He said a lot of things to his base during the announcement. But we know how good he is at not telling the truth.

He trumpeted the pipeline will create 28,000 jobs. The Washington Post says that is more like 10,400 jobs – and they’re seasonal and around only long enough to actually build the pipeline. Permanent full time jobs: 35. And no, I didn’t forget some zeros.

It will, of course, be made with American steel! Um, no. Well, maybe 60% of the steel will be American. The other 40% will be … Russian.

But the pipeline promotes energy independence! It is safer than transporting all that oil by train! Safety and independence would be even better if we promoted energy sources other than fossil fuel. In addition, this is the dirtiest oil and pipelines leak three times more oil than train accidents.

Washington Post headline: “Only 3% of Trump Voters Regret Their Vote.”

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville digs a bit deeper. We can’t tell how that compares to previous presidents because the question hasn’t been asked before. She also says it is misleading. Only? Stating percentage to keep the number low? She did a bit of math: 3% of his voters is 1,889,389. So she has a replacement headline:
Almost Two Million Trump Voters Regret Their Vote Only 60 Days into His Presidency.
And my version of the headline:
The two million people who regret voting for Trump would have made a difference in who won the election.

I’ve been talking about ranking a lot lately. Ranking comes with privilege – those higher in rank get some benefit or privilege from their rank. That can be subtle, such as white men usually don’t have to worry about safety (or they significantly increase the oppression if they are ever made to feel unsafe). But women and people of color have to think about safety all the time – the source of that threat being white men.

McEwan explores another facet of that privilege. Politics works for white men – at least the white men who voted for the nasty guy think it should. The privileged don’t actually have to do anything. Well, maybe vote. Occasionally. Of course, when things don’t get handed to them right now, they get upset. And because of their privilege they believe they aren’t supposed to get upset.

The rest of us know differently. We know we have to show up. We know we have to understand the political process and have to make sacrifices of time, energy, and money. And we know it is going to be a long hard slog.

Last fall we had a candidate who understood the long hard slog. And one who still doesn’t. And because he wants things to happen fast his policies have been a disaster. Fast is in opposition to good policy and good governance.

Younger workers, such as Millennials, are used to the gig economy. Many don’t have full-time jobs with good pay and benefits. They scrounge for jobs, many of which are part-time or are of short duration. Jia Tolentino, writing for The New Yorker, notes that companies that push this part-time work now praise it to the point of praising working yourself to death.
At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear.
Tolentino mentions stories of dedicated workers who walk up to twelve miles to work. One such story splashed across the pages of the Detroit Free Press. But these stories don’t delve into the shameful situation that the worker is paid so poorly he can’t afford the commute or a residence near the suburban job.

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