I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
January 05, 2017 - 11:40 a.m.
On the plus side, even though I slept late I'm starting to write earlier than usual. On the minus side, I last updated last night and all I've done since then is watch The Arrow, slept, and listened to the radio.
I never wrote about yesterday's dinner. I said I was going to make mashed potatoes for the first time in ages and I did. I hadn't because I haven't been keeping half & half in the house and thought that was a big improvement over milk. But yesterday I tried it with milk and it was fine. One secret, I also add a little olive oil. If you are a vegan you can make it without the milk, just use more olive oil and your preferred butter substitute or even just olive oil. You can also use peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter.
I haven't read the Times yet but I've scanned it. I find all the politics too depressing today. As we get closer to the inauguration I am finding it harder not easier to deal with. My rule is that I'm not going to read speculation on what Trump and the Republican congress are going to do. That is public anxiety. My therapist would not approve; it's fortune telling and catastrophizing. I'll only deal with facts, those are bad enough.
One of the topics that's been in my ideas bin the longest is how occupations traditionally associated with women are underpaid. They could get away with this as women had few choices. Society could justify it to its collective conscience by saying that it was "extra income," it was just supplementing her husband's income or something that a woman does until she gets married. I finally did write about it but I'm going to address it again it relates to another topic, the decrease in manufacturing jobs.
I'm inspired by this article in the Times, Why Men Don't Want the Jobs Done Mostly by Women. Prejudices against women are hurting men, the very men who supported Trump and his misogyny the most. There is nothing inherent in taking care of children, the infirmed, and the elderly of lesser economic value or deserving of less respect than working on the assembly line of an automobile plant. Thanks to many factors that are not going away we are losing manufacturing jobs and gaining service jobs. Men are not moving into these jobs because of the lack of pay, the lack of respect for those jobs and because of gender stereotyping. They think that men are less suited for them. That's as ridiculous and as harmful as thinking women are unsuited to be doctor, or lawyers, or scientists.
These gender biases are driving much of the inequality in society. A disproportionate number of the people earning minimum wage are women. There are large swaths of the country, the areas that voted for Trump, where men are feeling like failures because they define success by gender roles from a generation ago.
I don't know what we can do to turn the attitudes around other than saying we need to make an effort. That alone will help. Leadership is needed, the kind we will not get from the president-elect. We can each do our part in terms of our own attitudes. We can treat people doing service jobs with more respect and gently chastise our friends that don't.
A central part of the progressive agenda should be building up service sector unions. When factory jobs started, they weren't well-paying. Labor was underpaid and overworked. Unions changed that. They changed it direction through direct action and they changed it politically by putting pressure on governments to give workers protection. That is a big part of the anti-Union stance of the right, they fear the political power of unions. They offer a counterbalance to the plutocrats.
Even with the low pay the workers get childcare and eldercare is too expensive for many people I know, we had to pay someone to take care of my mother. It was so difficult to find someone good and was a major cost. Perhaps this should be the next extension of the welfare state. If the government paid for it through taxes it would do much to level inequality. The devil is in the details. These things are not as easy to do as they seem. The objections aren't all excuses to not raise taxes. It takes a lot of planning to make these things work. We should be doing feasibility studies. I'm sure there are thousands of problems I'm not thinking of. There are also benefits I don't see.
OK, I laid out a progressive agenda which benefits women and the blue-collar men that so often find themselves on the opposite sides of political debates. Make sure to read the article in the Times I linked to. We can't even start working on this at the federal level but we can do it in states and even more so in cities with progressive governments. We can be organizing unions. All My Gentle Readers can bring this into the conversation.
That's a good morning's work. I deserve to reward myself with a sausageeggandcheese sandwich. I don't have bagels so I'll have it on an English Muffin. I don't think it will work on a half-baked roll. Tonight, I'm seeing Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes at Rockwood Music Hall. That means I'll have something to write about tomorrow. Now I have to eat and work on my heckles.
Progress Report - January 10, 2017
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