Discriminating Kmareka readers may have read Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. If you’re from the Blue Persuasion you might have noticed that Scrooge was calculating lost productivity/profit vs the fact that making Bob Cratchit work on Christmas would have cost him social capital. But tormenting Bob cost Scrooge nothing, and might give him leverage to extract some more unpaid overtime. Have any Kmareka readers ever worked for Scrooge?
If so, they will enjoy this Christmas story…
Britain may be in the grip of a nasty cold snap, but it’s business as usual at The Raven Inn. The workers have a big stake in keeping the pub going come rain, shine, sleet, or snow: They’re among a group of local volunteers who took over the inn after it closed at the height of Britain’s credit crunch.
The 290-year-old Raven Inn is the only watering hole in this tiny Welsh village nestled in the Clwydian Hills. Villagers were aghast when the owner put the property on sale for redevelopment – a cool-headed calculation that rising costs and a dwindling population of just 600 made it viable as a pub no longer.
This reminds me of the Providence Community Library. The network of neighborhood libraries had been facing threats of cuts every year. The poorest neighborhoods were always first on the list. The places where the torch of literacy (it’s on their seal) would burn the brightest– well, budget cuts, you know. And when this happened the neighborhoods would rise up and keep the doors open another year.
The Providence Community Library is a lovely Christmas story, that I would cut and paste if I could find it on Google. But I might have to send a Christmas card to my misanthropic friend, who donated many hours of skilled unpaid labor to making the Washington Park branch a neighborhood library once again. And kids get on her nerves.
What is the value of unpaid labor?
I was at a work Christmas party, and my boss was saying that feminism created a demand that ‘women do it all’. She works very hard, as a small-business owner and mother. But I wouldn’t turn the clock back to the time when a competent businesswoman would have to prove every minute that she was worthy to compete in the working world. Yeah, we’re tired, but our mothers didn’t have any free ride either.
Their labor wasn’t recorded on a time card or rewarded with a paycheck, but now we know. Volunteerism and domestic work has a cash value. It can re-open the doors of a library and keep a 300 year old pub from turning into a Mickey D’s.
It’s not a just a sentimental story. You have to lean on some politicians and put some teeth into it. My street will lose a greenhouse and gain a U-shaped drive-through if we don’t play our cards right.
No one listens to a few cranks. If, on the other hand, citizens united against the force of Citizens United, we might have a chance at making a world where we are not consumers, but citizens, with all the rights and responsibilties that brings us.
Merry Christmas, and support your local businesses.