January 3, 2017
I love when cranky people write in to the newspaper about trivial things so much. This had me chortling over my toast this morning:
• “Goes extinct?” (Salish Sea orca population on brink, 25 November). Since when did this become the normal way to talk about extinction? Is this some Americanism that has become acceptable worldwide? I come across this again and again in the Guardian Weekly and it really grates on my nerves. Extinction isn’t a place that organisms go to or have gone to. Organisms become extinct.
Saint Louis, France
December 30, 2016
After years of hibernation, will the US economy rouse itself for a big comeback over the next couple of years? With an incoming Republican administration hellbent on reflating an economy already near full employment, and with promised trade restrictions driving up the price of import-competing goods, and with central-bank independence likely to come under attack, higher inflation – likely exceeding 3% at times – is a near-certainty. And output growth could surprise as well, possibly reaching 4%, at least temporarily. [emphasis mine]
Paragraphs like these are how Trump got elected. Paragraphs like these are a slap in the face to struggling people. I’m just going to talk about one part of it.
Millions of Americans in communities so economically devastated people don’t even dream of looking for work. Millions of Americans who want work and have given up on finding it. Millions of Americans working multiple jobs and still not making ends meet. Millions of Americans who want more hours and can’t get them. Millions of Americans dying of drug and alcohol abuse because their economic prospects are unbearably grim and their communities devastated.
An economics prof at Harvard wrote that paragraph with a straight face in The Guardian recently. I know he’s using full employment in the very technical and specific economics textbook sense. But even if you believe that model of the world in any way represents reality, to use the phrase full employment without even a nod to the vast gap between the literal meaning and the discipline-specific meaning and without any acknowledgement of the depth of suffering occurring under this “full employment” – it is cruel, it is ignorant, and it allows the very worst kind of political discourse to flourish.
December 1, 2016
Fence me in by Bradley Gordon on Flickr
My family watched a lot of The 700 Club. I read about Matthew Shepard’s murder in its newsletter on the long walk home from school one day. I don’t remember the exact words. I do remember the day. It was cold, overcast, and miserably damp. My feet squelched in the mud.
The newsletter must have been graphic because even now I feel sick and am assaulted with horrific imaginings so vivid they seem to be memories. I stood in the road a long time, watching the primed tobacco stalks slouching with rot in the waterlogged fields.
I didn’t know exactly what a homosexual was, but I understood from the newsletter that this is what would happen if you were one. I understood that it was evil and evil has consequences. My terrified empathy was soothed by the distance between myself and Wyoming, between myself and homosexuality.
But. There was a girl on the softball team at school who waited for me outside homeroom and asked me to the movies with her. I felt something exciting and frightening and wonderful around her.
Not much later, I learned what homosexual meant. But I never connected that word to myself, no matter how I felt about that softball player in middle school or other girls I knew later. I remembered Matthew Shepard and knew that I wasn’t evil – I wasn’t a bad person who could be tortured to death for some secret dirty thing.
Until, one day, I realized that that was exactly what people who watch the 700 Club thought of people who had feelings like mine.