Barbara Ehrenreich– Homeless and the Occupation

Author Barbara Ehrenreich spent a year working minimum-wage jobs for her book, ‘Nickeled and Dimed’ where she uncovered the truth– workers are not getting by in America.

She has a post on Common Dreams today, ‘Throw Them Out With the Trash: Why Homelessness Is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue’.

The current prohibition on homelessness began to take shape in the 1980s, along with the ferocious growth of the financial industry (Wall Street and all its tributaries throughout the nation). That was also the era in which we stopped being a nation that manufactured much beyond weightless, invisible “financial products,” leaving the old industrial working class to carve out a livelihood at places like Wal-Mart.

As it turned out, the captains of the new “casino economy” — the stock brokers and investment bankers — were highly sensitive, one might say finicky, individuals, easily offended by having to step over the homeless in the streets or bypass them in commuter train stations. In an economy where a centimillionaire could turn into a billionaire overnight, the poor and unwashed were a major buzzkill. Starting with Mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York, city after city passed “broken windows” or “quality of life” ordinances making it dangerous for the homeless to loiter or, in some cases, even look “indigent,” in public spaces.

Click here for the whole post.

A Modest Proposal for Wal-Mart

I wrote a post last year called Savers v. Wal-Mart. Since the ‘pre-worn’ look seems to be here to stay, you can get it at a fraction of the price at Sal’s or Savers. And it’s authentic worker’s garb.

Being an authentic worker is getting harder. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision makes it easier for large corporations to nickle and dime their workers without accountability.

From today’s New York Times…

Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court to make a million or more of the company’s current and former female employees fend for themselves in individual lawsuits instead of seeking billions of dollars for discrimination in a class-action lawsuit. Wal-Mart got what it wanted from the court — unanimous dismissal of the suit as the plaintiffs presented it — and more from the five conservative justices, who went further in restricting class actions in general.

When you are working, everything is an equation of time vs money. All the big department stores have abandoned downtown Providence, except for the PPMall. The nearest convenient place is Wal-Mart. Time, gas, parking, overhead all figure in.

Buying small and local sometimes seems like too much work after a day of work, but there are ways to resist the Borg.

Shop mindfully. All stores strive to hustle you into buying more than you planned. Cutting one impulse purchase from your trip is only a fleabite, but a thousand fleas are no joke. What will happen if we keep our nickles and dimes in our pockets?

Via Politics Plus, we haven’t heard the last of the discrimination suit…

The women who sought to sue Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) for gender bias on behalf of 1.5 million co-workers said they will press their fight against the nation’s largest private employer in smaller lawsuits in lower courts and claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Weak government and strong corporations has been the trend for decades, confirmed by the Supremes this week. If you would rather be a citizen than a consumer or a human resource, this is a time to turn it around.

UPDATE: Wal-Mart stock is up following the Supreme Court ruling. A good day for corporations.

Hillbilly Report explains a court ruling that may ease some of the obstacles to workers wanting to form a union. Individuals are at a big disadvantage vs a multinational corporation, collective bargaining helps workers have a fair chance.

SHOP RHODE ISLAND: Here’s a link to Mi Vida Local with some unique, local small businesses that have what you need without the big box.