Archive for the ‘United States – economy’ Category

Earlier this week (July 23) marked the 50th anniversary of the urban rebellion in Detroit, Michigan.  This was the era of explosions in the deprived black communities of urban America, opening with the rebellion in Harlem (New York) on the east Coast in 1964, the Watts ghetto (Los Angeles) on the west coast in 1965 and continuing in many places in between through the rest of the 1960s, with the biggest explosions coming with the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.  Below, we’re running a piece by the comrades of the US Marxist group The Spark; this was the editorial that appeared in the current round of all their fortnightly workplace bulletins. 

by The Spark

In 1965, Detroit’s then mayor declared that the revolt in Watts couldn’t happen in “his city”. In 2017, Detroit’s current mayor declared that 1967 wasn’t an uprising. But it DID happen, and it WAS an uprising, an uprising of oppressed people. Before it was over, the Detroit revolt of 1967 would become the largest of any uprising in 20th century America. It was “the fire next time” that James Baldwin had written about in 1962.

In 1967 – no matter how many marches, how many court cases, how many laws – unemployment continued. Impoverishment drained people. Cops went into neighborhoods like an occupying army. There was a vast powder keg of unmet needs and grievances.

All it took was an “ordinary” incident of (more…)

The following was written by the editors of the US left-wing journal Against the Current, in the July-August issue of that publication, here.

A six-part series by Laurence Peterson documenting an example of downward mobility in Post-Meltdown America

Part 6: The Uses of Uselessness

Trying to make any sense of it all 

Is there any wider significance to this sorry little tale? Well, it just so happens that Daymon was recently purchased by Bain Capital, the private equity  firm of Mitt Romney fame. Private equity firms often purchase failing and lacklustre companies, load them up with debt, pay big dividends to investors in the private equity firm, charge high fees to the acquired firm for the favour, and then dump the zombified carcass of firms drastically bled of labour and sunk capital back onto the market, sometimes generating a big, second profit on top of the fees, with the ultimate profitability or even viability of the affected firm remaining a big question mark behind the inflated dividends and lean production numbers. Being privately-held (and not required to produce public financial figures), I can’t say for sure whether or not Daymon fits this pattern exactly, but, from my vantage point, limited in the extreme though it was, the purchase of Daymon by Bain was not a surprise: the kind of unproductive, underappreciated and even unwanted work we did at CDS seemed to me to have zombie company written all over it.

(more…)

A six-part series by Laurence Peterson documenting an example of downward mobility in Post-Meltdown America

Part 5: Yuletide Epiphanies

The author experiences a mildly excruciating revelation regarding his employer’s client’s attitude towards him

Toward the latter part of last year, conditions for most CDS advisors took a turn for the worse. Marc had left, and was replaced by Ashley, who had worked alongside us as a senior advisor for a long time. This move was very popular with just about all of us, especially inasmuch as CDS practice tended towards bringing in someone from outside via the corporate office when there was a management change. I really liked Ashley: she was always respectful and eager to help every one of us, and seemed more likely to take our side in the state of permanent war with Costco management than Marc had been. For a few months things went better than they ever had done in my time with CDS. (more…)

by The Spark

The Trump administration might be mired in multiple investigations. A special prosecutor appointed by Trump’s own Department of Justice might be investigating Trump himself. The U.S. news media might obsess over Trump’s every rant on Twitter. Top business executives might decry Washington “gridlock,” that is, the inability of the Republican-controlled Congress to pass even one “reform” that would hand over trillions of more taxpayer dollars to the biggest companies, in the form of supposed “health care reform,” not to speak of massive tax breaks, infrastructure giveaways and other capitalist scams.

But in the real world, the wheels of the U.S. government and its massive state apparatus continue to grind. For example, in mid-June, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress that the Pentagon was developing a plan to (more…)

A six-part series by Laurence Peterson documenting an example of downward mobility in Post-Meltdown America

Part 4: Characters

Surveying the Costco Avon Habitus

George was a diminutive 70-year-old who was known as “Tweety Bird” for his resemblance to the Disney character and the way he moved, with an outsized bald head and rapid, back-and forth lateral swaying gait. He came in every day, just about, and often twice or more. He employed two greetings, and two greetings only, directed both at old timers and newcomers at CDS: on some days, he’d growl “I’m taking what I want and I don’t give a fuck!”; on others, he would remark that every day was a beautiful day that we should all be grateful for.

Once an advisor had been at CDS for a little while, George would generally stop for a while and regale the chained advisor with the story of his children, both of whom, he claimed, had died in a clinical sense and had been revived thanks to divine intervention. He would then offer the advisor the chance to read a religious tract he promised to bring next visit, an offer which was, in my experience, without exception declined. George would then employ a strictly businesslike demeanour toward the new advisor for a while, defaulting pretty much to observance of the disjunctive greeting solely.

After a while he would chat a bit, but only about the most banal topics, and only very briefly. One exceptionally slow afternoon, I saw George propelling toward me and was so desirous of meaningful human contact that I tried my best to get him to stay and talk to me for a while. But he would have none of it; and as he hustled away I was sorely tempted to shout after him “GEORGE, THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN JESUS BRINGING YOUR DAMN KIDS BACK FROM THE DEAD! But I held my fire and retreated into the usual, post-encounter stupor.

Sorrowful post-industrial

He of the Sorrowful Countenance came in regularly, but not nearly as often as George, maybe twice a month. He either walked with a cane and heavy limp, or, much more frequently, used a motor cart provided by Costco for elderly or infirm shoppers, of which there were proportionately very high numbers of in the Avon store. Avon is wedged between Brockton (and the Costco store is just over the Avon border), where I live with my mother (whose family have been here since colonial times), a truly benighted, impoverished and violent post-industrial city whose chief legal industry appears to be storefront churches, all too many of which sport an altogether delusional affiliation with the prosperity gospel (“Winners City Church;” “The Church of God, Inc.”), and Randolph, which is popular as a retirement community; and between the two towns, along with Avon and Stoughton, already mentioned, residents are either too poor to buy much of anything or, in the case of the elderly, too infirm to take much out of the big box store, other than meds: hence the popularity of the chemist’s shop, whose sales (funded largely by government-subsidised Medicare and Medicaid), along with those of the off-licence, pretty much keep the whole store somehow ticking-over. (more…)

A six-part series by Laurence Peterson documenting an example of downward mobility in Post-Meltdown America

Part 3: The CDS Way Continued

More fun and games…

      Once in whatever spot chosen the advisor is pretty much chained within an invisible circle measuring exactly 12 feet in radius for the rest of the shift, and is not allowed to leave the cart itself at all without someone else taking command of the cart unless the advisor maintains constant eye contact with the cart for the duration of the walk. Alternately, one may leave without regard to the former rather annoying restriction (which, in turn, made it extremely difficult to observe the injunction to keep the floor around the demo clean at all times), but only if all prepared samples and raw foodstuffs are cleared off the top of the card and stowed on racks below, and after the cart is turned round to obscure the opening on to the side with the racks. Technically advisors are allowed to close the exhibit off in this manner to visit the loo or to go back to fetch supplies, but Marc’s sometimes savage reaction to such sorties ensured that many advisors were too afraid to undertake them even when in need, and several advisors would chose to wait for their allotted breaks to take care of such things, rather than dealing with them as the situation arose. I actually became quite popular because I began asking other advisors if they needed anything when I had to make an extra journey back for supplies, and I always tried to tread lightly when I got back there to avoid contact with Marc. (more…)