Friday, September 26, 2008

work and the proposed Wall Street bail-out

Work is something I spend a lot of time thinking about - I hope critically. The bail-out has got me thinking more concretely about policy initiatives. I don't have formal training in policy; professionally, I'm a linguistic anthropologist who studies poetry and music. However, I am in a very good union and I learn a lot from knowing other activists in this and other groups.

I don't want there to be a bail-out for the richest people in the world, protecting their affluence. I don't want to protect affluence, at all. In fact, I'd like to end it. (I only know of one organization that has the guts to go better than campaigns to end poverty with a campaign to end affluence:

I also question the viability and desirability of credit being as available as it has for some time now. This much credit has encouraged over-consumption (which means pollution) and landed a lot of people in unmanageable debt situations.

What I support is helping low-income people get proper food, housing, education, and health care: sounds like social equity! I support valuing the right to health, shelter, food, and expression above the right to private property. I'm for voluntary simplicity among the middle and upper classes, and equity for all. So, let's start buying and producing less stuff, let's produce it with more care so it lasts longer, and let's start sharing work, money, and leisure equally.

Here's a policy suggestion: what if we shorten the work-week to 30-hours, prohibit mandatory over-time, increase minimum paid vacations and parental leave, generously subsidize worker-co-ops and small, organic farms, stop subsidizing petroleum, pro-rate wages to number of dependents and health expenses, heavily tax high incomes and profits, and raise minimum wage to at least $20/hour?

The core of my idea is the work-week, minimum wage, and vacation stuff. All the rest is support for that because those 3 on their on could be seriously abused. It could crush small businesses. It could lead to lay-offs and more mandatory over-time. It would do little to reduce affluence at the very top.

Subsidizing worker co-ops and would help small businesses. The stuff about over-time and leave would reduce lay-offs and create jobs. Petroleum subsidies make it less feasible to buy local. Taxing high profits and incomes will put a dent in affluence.

Well, that's the idea, anyway. Other people with expertise in policy may be able to improve this a lot. I'm looking forward to that. For now, maybe thinking of having every Friday off will inspire effective activism!

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