Sunday, February 19, 2012

Futile Complications of Wagery

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, back in 2007, back before the massive foreclosures:
On any given night, approximately 750,000 men, women, and children are homeless in the US.

* 56% are living in shelters and transitional housing, while 44% are unsheltered.
* 59% are single adults and 41% are persons living in families.
* 98,452 are homeless families
* 23% are chronically homeless according to HUD’s definition.

Regarding hunger:

The [Greater Chicago] Food Depository defines "food insecurity" as "reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet," or, put simply, "unsure where they will find their next meal." Overall, Chicago has a 20.6 percent rate of food insecurity. That means 581,558 people are food insecure, a fairly terrifying number. Even worse, 36% of those who are food insecure are thus not eligible for federal nutrition programs because of their income - suggesting that the income cap for those programs may be too low.

In the impoverished, underresourced, segregated South side neighborhoods of Englewood and East Garfield Park where I've taught, nearly a third of residents (31.2%) face food insecurity.

We don't, oddly enough, have a shortage of houses or food. Just as we don't have a shortage of doctors or pharmaceuticals. We have a shortage of meaningful, living-wage jobs that provide adequate means to food, shelter, medical care, transportation, and a degree of economic security. There need not be a shortage of ingenuity nor of resources*. But there sure seems to be a shortage of imagination. Not because we are not intelligent, but because all of our thoughts of work and resultant earnings have been reduced (by the Powers That Be and, sadly, by our own complicity with them) to thinking about making paper money. How one job or another can afford us more paper money than another, what that can afford us, and how far that can last or get us.

'young labor paycheck' photo (c) 2011, MN AFL-CIO - license:

Rather, I propose, we should be thinking in terms of direct ownership of our tools, talents, work, hands and how these can get us direct access to that which we need.

The world as it is set up is simply needlessly complicated. Wagery. That's what we live for. A certain amount of money that may or may not have anything to do with our skills, use, talents, passion, vision, focus. Nor the usefulness of those to people or the environment. Our aspiration is largely wasted on wagery.

The non-irony in all of this is that the most-compensated - the best waged - are those who control and run the Big Wagery. The Money People are those who, in general, receive the Most Money. And their control over us is predicated on our need for wages. Wage jobs give us money and with money we get...


Stuff like food and clothing and and electronics and housing and transport to our distant jobs and schools and stores where we may continually purchase food and clothing and... stuff. Much of which we know we could live without.

We are like fish who have been incepted to love us some bicycles.

It's all both largely important and immeasurably futile. We are playing a game of life and death - with someone else's rules, and on his island.

And until we loosen their control over our lives and get off their damned island, we have little control over our own lives.


  1. Marla Abe10:41 AM

    So, how do we have an economy that isn't all about making stuff to sell to other people??

  2. Why, I'm glad you asked! :-)

    I often refer tto it as Local Sustainability, or Community FirstEconomy, but Participatory Economy (parecon) is also a good start.


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